Charles Dickens describes Scrooge as "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint,... secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster."
I so love this description of Scrooge as I ready myself for the umpteenth viewing of the glorious black and white version of A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim in the lead role. His delight in finding that he's not dead (yet) is such a transcendent scene.
Have I ever been a Scrooge? Surely I have as a human on this earth. We all have. And some of us have had the great good fortune to be able to serve and care for others. It is in giving and receiving that our hearts open and expand.
My neighbor told me today how much money she makes. It was rather a lot and I instantly thought that money can certainly ease life. But more and more money is just...numbers as an old girlfriend used to say.
I have a house to live in, a furnace that works, warm clothes and plenty of food. Lucky. I am lucky.
I met Ajahn Kovilo, a young monk, down at the market yesterday morning very early. He walks there during the week with his begging bowl, a big metal bowl covered with a brown cloth. I brought warm rice and veggies and chocolate to give him. He eats once a day before noon. This is part of his practice. I parked my car and walked along in the dark and cold morning. I had knitted him a hat to keep his bald head warm. (Temps here are going down below freezing). As I walked along, I saw folks under sleeping bags on the sidewalk. There were few people out. As I hit the corner of the market, the smells of cinnamon, smoked meats, coffee and spices filled the air. I waited for him to appear and down the sidewalk he came, in his cedar colored robes. He was unhurried, socks and flip flops on his feet. Seeing him there was almost like an apparition. In Asia, monks and nuns are everywhere. Here in the US, not so much. Cultures, worlds, centuries collided.
I'll go again next week.
Over my desk is a photo of my cousin and her young son. They are both gone, to homelessness, mental illness and suicide. My brother is next to them. He too is gone. Then there is Allison Streeter, a block of a woman who swam the English Channel to France and back THREE times. My grandson is there, as a baby and a high school grad.
Where am I going with all this? Not sure.
Why are we here? To love Keith Richard, to make art, to care for our loved ones. To be kind. In spite of or because of. To be kind. To wake up, like Scrooge, on any morning, and realize we're finite and what we do, how we live, matters.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.