When I was a kid my friend’s Mom would hand us each a big paper bag of peapods to shell, we’d sit on his front step and pop round green peas into a big metal bowl and pass a summer afternoon, talking and joking about stuff 8 year old kids would talk and joke about in those days. I loved my street and my friend and his Mom and Dad and his two older brothers too. I’d say I was lucky, wasn’t I.
I attended a performance of “A Christmas Carol” this evening. My son sings in the high school chorus that accompanied the reading. As I sat listening I thought, “What if THAT MAN had been here tonight and heard these words – this old story told a hundred different ways and a thousand thousand times – read so vigorously by the Minister? What if he had listened to these carols, these accomplished young voices are singing? Would he have been moved as I was by the sound of the organ and voices filling that old chapel – its’ cornerstone laid on December 20, 1866 – in The First Baptist Church on Elm Street? Would he find the lesson in Dickens’ brilliant writing as stirring as I did tonight? Would the inspiration that opens the heart, open his? This story – published December 19, 1843 – moves me, a Jewish man, as I suspect it moves Christians,Muslims,Hindus,Buddhists and Atheists alike. Would this deceptively simple story of reflection and redemption have reached and changed him tonight? Could it? Oh that it could! Let us pray. All who wish to take this old tale’s lesson to heart. Let us try, at least,to take this lesson to heart. I think you may agree, this is not so simple a task, for any of us.
He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl in a mourning-dress: in whose eyes there were tears, which sparkled in the light that shone out of the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“It matters little,” she said, softly. “To you, very little. Another idol has displaced me; and if it can cheer and comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.”
“What Idol has displaced you?” he rejoined.
“A golden one.”
“This is the even-handed dealing of the world!” he said. “There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth!”
“You fear the world too much,” she answered, gently. “All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, Gain, engrosses you. Have I not?”
I was in Jersey City trying to get to work. I pulled off US Rt 1 and made it to a hill overlooking the river. I got out of my car and joined a group of old men and school children with their teacher. We stood together behind a chain link fence and watched the burning tower silently collapse. The smell of burning plastic in the air. I got into my car, the streets of Jersey City were empty, frozen, silent and numb. I headed back home to get Shawn and the kids. Then we drove the hour south to my Mom’s house. The unthinkable image burned into my retina. The sun trapped in a clear blue bright sky.
“The attack occurred, I stood and watched the buildings fall with my own eyes, smelled the burning plastic from across the river,later at home, my eyes and ears were unnerved by the television as it became an unrelenting fear machine.” #911