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A subtle but powerful message nestles among the pages of Charles Dickens’s classic tale, “A Christmas Carol” – a message that most readers miss.
The ghost, Jacob Marley, brings Ebenezer Scrooge to the window and shows him a sobering sight: “The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither… Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s… The air was filled with lamentation and regret…”
Were they miserable because they had been “sinners” in mortality and now must carry burdens of guilt and chains of selfishness forever? Surprisingly, no. Dickens says, “The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power forever.”
They were doomed to wander to and fro witnessing the pain and sadness in the world that they could have done something about when they were mortal; but now, since they were ghosts, without physical substance, they were powerless to alleviate the suffering they witnessed…
…at least that is what they believed; but, through his skillfully crafted story, Dickens suggests a deeper message.
The spirits weren’t powerless, they only thought they were. Jacob Marley unwittingly proved them wrong. He was so focused on helping his self-centered and deeply sad partner, that he broke through his own limiting beliefs in his powerlessness and released Scrooge from his prison of greed and selfishness. Without fully realizing what he had done, Jacob Marley blessed both their lives – and the lives of all whom Scrooge served from that day forth.
What then held powerless the other spirits that wandered mournfully through the night? Ghostly chains – chains without substance – that is all. It was only their belief that they could do nothing that held them back. After all, weren’t the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future also spirits? And didn’t they – like Marley – interfere for good in the life of Ebenezer Scrooge?
As it was with them, so it is with us. Whether spirit or mortal, we are more powerful than we realize. “God bless(es) us every one” with opportunities to interfere for good. We are limited only by our belief that our opportunities are limited.
Now, you might be broke as broke can be; but, is there someone who needs a smile or an encouraging word? Is there someone you haven’t thanked recently for how they bless your life? Have you felt impressed to pause in your busy day and do some act of kindness that you really don’t have time to do? Where does that impression come from? Perhaps it comes from a wandering phantom who is finally breaking the ghostly chains of self-limiting beliefs and is interfering for good – through you.
Let us “honor Christmas in our hearts and try to keep it all the year” always seeking opportunities to interfere for good.
One of my best friends, my editor and coach, Tom Cantrell contributed this piece. He says it is my Christmas present. Thanks for sharing Tom, and – “God bless us, every one.”