It was another lonely meal beside the fireplace as he’s done night after night after a twelve hour day of balancing the books in unbalancing ways. Crackling sounds growing louder pauses his meal as his dead partner visits with a warning of three more visitors after the old clock crackles midnight. He gives a favorite sentence of mine to his dead friend, “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
Denial always goes a long way instead of admitting what or who is before you. Charles Dickens presents a timeless story which is more about time that any good or bad characters. It is the only times that we have in life that embody his early morning visitors: past, present and future. Each one contains a story. To separate one time from another is to fragment life which only fragments our minds. Instead of fragment, to live only in one time is to freeze yourself. Scrooge’s frozen time is his past and that is the Christmas story which can be told and retold in any season.
“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.” In spiritual terms, his statement can easily be called healing, in whatever form it takes within our fragmented or frozen lives.
The Ghost told Scrooge, “If man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die?” Whichever “f” you find yourself in the natural reaction is to block everything and everyone from your sights. You are in this life by yourself , just like the meal you eat each night.
The frozen Scrooge gives another classic sentence, “If they would rather die, . . . they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” In your imagination your problem is projected upon the world and that somehow validates your continuing to live in one of the “f’s.”
Dead partner visiting Scrooge at the beginning of the story provides for us with the story’s end and the ending of one of our “f’s,” “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
The business of a “comprehensive ocean of my business” is rooted in a union with those around us as awkward, divisive, argumentative, harmonious or joyous as it will surely be. Fragmented or frozen is healed through a unity of our life’s times: past, present and future. The “f’s” are unleashed when a link (a new chain of connections breaks the chain that held us down) to our common humanity. A humanity made strong whether with one person, a congregation, a family, a neighborhood or the nearby tavern on Friday nights for dice.
Then those around you will happily say to you, “Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years it was a splendid laugh!”