Last week, I dreamed the strangest dream, which might benefit you. I wonder now, what was dream and what was real. I’ve conveyed it to you here, as scrupulously as possible, so most is provided in transcript. If you’re wondering if the people speaking are characters from Dickens, I’d say yes, you are correct.
I awoke to a raspy voice, and here is what I heard:
Scrooge: You know it’s quite a fine place up here, Marley!
Marley: Glad I increased your vibration while ye were still of the Earth plane, so ye could join me! It would have been a fate worse than Death Itself to drag those merciless chains around!
Scrooge: Well, my dear sir, do not feign forgetfulness! It was I who saved you from those chains!
Marley: Indeed! We saved each other! Would that other humans would know how!
Scrooge: Good thing you saw the Light and knew ‘twould be a better choice for us both!
Marley: Not to mention the Christmas feast the Cratchitts invite us to each and every year.
Scrooge: It has not ceased to amaze me since they spread it on the Earth plane from next to nothing, and here, oh my, ‘tis quite the extravagance of good riches!
Marley: Yes, ‘tis better to give than to receive, by God!
Scrooge: Well, ‘tis what they say. [With those words, Scrooge paused and raised an eyebrow askance. I wondered what he knew that he wasn’t sharing.]
Marley: Arghhhh! ‘Tis what we say, and you know full well, Ebeneezer!
Scrooge: I know full well since the day you sent the Ghosts to enlighten me, and enlighten me they did full well!
Scrooge: Yet families still shiver in the wet, dark streets , children are malnourished and lie down with empty, rumbling bellies, and tiny wee babies still die of disease.
Marley: While people pinch their pounds, if not pence. And sometimes they pinch that which is not theirs.
Scrooge: Ha! You always were the jokester, Marley! Even before you changed your attitude.
Marley: True, Scrooge, ye realize that I am not speaking only of money now. People take too much, want too much, eat too much, weigh too much, and yet die of malnutrition and lack of sustenance. Even the rich.
Scrooge: Why should they do so?
Marley: Do you not recollect those wintry nights I came to you with rattling chains, begging you to wake though your eyes were open? ‘Tis the same with them.
Scrooge: How so? I had plenty at Christmastide, though I seldom partook.
Marley: ‘Tis the same for these people. The reason I haunted you was clear once I became immaterial. Your life was out of balance. You were hoarding your plenty—starving yourself—and thereby starving the world. There are people who have plenty, and feel nothing. And there are those who have little, and hope much.
Scrooge: How very prescient of you.
Marley: You can do the same now that you have no form, now that you have only your energy. Now that you have only LOVE.
Scrooge: Now that I have only love. ‘Tis true.’ Tis the only thing I could take with me at the end of my sojourn. Man cannot live by bread alone, especially not a Spirit.
Marley: And plenty you had, Scrooge, because you gave plenty. Yet you saved a bit for yourself as well.
Scrooge: Ha! What is done to oneself is done to all others. It took you and three other fearsome haunts to help me cipher that puzzle. And they were forced to do some grievous damage afore I finally turned the corner. I had not known love even after I bought the Crachits Christmas dinner. I thought money would solve their problems, but in reality, their love solved mine own.
Marley: Aye. ‘Twould have died a slow and painful death, and instead you died at peace while you slept, with no haunts to torment.
Scrooge: Yes, I died a cheerful giver, I. And a happy receiver.
Marley: Yet now, Scrooge, I wonder if the pendulum has swung the other way ‘round.
Scrooge: What say ye?
Marley: These folks no longer need to wring the goose’s neck nor roast it over an open flame. They have machines that can do most anything for them.
Scrooge: Even kill the goose!
Marley: Aye! Especially that. And the gander, as well, if it serves them for the moment. Much plenty reigns over much of the Earth, even parts we knew not of when we were men.
Marley: Oh yes, Indeed, there are only a few pockets in the world that must be filled through toil in the fields. Fewer still that have no roof to call their own. Tis still millions, but millions more are wealthy in possessions–if not in love.
Scrooge: We have done well, then, sir!
Marley: What have you been doing, Ebeneezer, for the last four score and twenty,? Have you taken neery a peek down below?
Scrooge: Aye. There is great plenty. There is little mirth. War still wages over peace, especially in the heart of humankind. And though wealth is widespread, the most vulnerable still weep themselves to sleep, too thirsty to shed tears, wondering if they will wake on the cock’s crow. Greed, lust, and hatred still reign supreme, and fill the veins of many, who crave these humors more than water.
Marley: Water, water, everywhere. And not a drop to drink! At least the last time I looked. Methinks I’ll take another gander.
Scrooge: Not much has changed in the time—or lack thereof—here. They have only to realize that water is what will balance physically, if shared by all, and love is what they will balance their hearts, if they would only share it. Face it, Sir, we have come a long way.
Marley: Yet we have a longer distance to go. The past decade has shifted, and a new yet most certain darkness has drifted as an unnoticed invader into the empty crevasses of life. It is a hardship for many to see through and around it. Come with me, ye who I once called Scrooge—and I shall show ye.
Then at once, there was a beating of wings and a gnashing of teeth, but this time it was I who was frightened. I tried to pull the covers over my head. Scrooge threw his head back, gave a good belly laugh, and beckoned me follow him.
Scrooge: Ye think ye can still afright me with that sort of trickery, Marley. Nay! Nay! Have you forgot I am as dead as a doornail or doorknocker myself now? As dead as you used to be?
Marley: Nay, Scrooge. Yet I must summon the same Beings you observed in Life into Death. Only these three ghosts are one and the same, for they are the only Beings who can show all ‘cept our God Itself.
And at that precise second, three figures appeared. I could see right through them, though they were as tall as the ceiling above me, save one, who was tiny, with gray hair but no wrinkles, and looked a bit like a wizened baby—old and young all at once.
Scrooge: Well hello, My Friends. I bid thee Merry Christmas! A joyful holiday indeed to be reunited. What say ye all?
Ghost of Christmas Past: This is how it was supposed to turn out. Do you recognize these times?
Scrooge [squinting over his spectacles]: Oh yes! Oh yes indeed!
At that, the ground fell away from my bed, and I screamed, but then adjusted as I realized I was floating. Flying, actually! Me, who was afraid of plane travel—I was flying!
The wee Spirit held onto my blanket to support me. He did so without much effort; by the looks of it, he was holding me up with his pinky finger. “Look ye there!” he intoned to me in a creaky voice, and the two gentlemen I’d been eavesdropping on looked, too.
I watched in fascinated fast forward as Tiny Tim celebrated Christmas after Christmas, becoming a man with his own family, then founding one of the first charities, until his son took on his mantle. Then I watched his son do the same, and his son after him. They were all named some variation of Tim, but none were tiny, nor did they walk with a crutch. They helped plenty of people who did, however, and Tim Number Four founded the first non-profit that fit prosthetic limbs to amputees.
I was in awe of this family that had begun with nothing, and done so much with just a little help. Scrooge and Marley seemed unimpressed, however.
“Reruns! Bah! Humbug!” Scrooge sneered, showing me he’d not completely reformed from the name he was given.
“We know of this already!” Marley moaned. “Give us something we know nothing of—“
At which point, we hurtled through a dark tunnel and landed—not over the rainbow, or even back in my bedroom, but in Manhattan.
A charmingly gigantic Spirit in a flowing green robe, bordered with white fur, looked down upon us, her finger to her lips. Her feet were bare, and she had a halo of holly around her very full, wavy hair.
“Shhhhhh!” whispered Scrooge, looking at me as though I were causing all the commotion around us, when it was actually coming from a squawling infant, bathed in ephemeral light, who by the looks of it, had just been born.
“Shhhh,” the Phantom whispered in a tornadic tone to Scrooge. “You’ve heard of the Prince of Peace? In fact, there are people being born at this moment whose destiny it is to attempt to bring peace to this dark world. This babe will be one of many in a global network that will shine their Light on the Darkness. But not yet. Nay, not yet.” She sighed, and her breath blew my hair straight up like a fierce winter gale. “First—“
We found ourselves flying once again, and when we landed, I could smell flowing water. We had landed in what looked to be Wall Street. We hovered over the water for a moment, and then over a crowd of people.There, the smell liquor, and urine, and day’ old garbage drowned out any smells of the bay.
“Ten years ago, this place was barren with grieving,” the Spirit whispered. “Now it bears the illusion of prosperity once more.”
I raised an eyebrow, afraid of speaking, but wondering “Illusion?”
“Yes,” the Spirit answered, as though she had heard me, “Illusion. Full Stop. Nothing could be further from the truth. None are prosperous, not the bankers nor the protestors. For they are at war with one another and themselves.”
I looked around at the people in tents as far as the eye could see. I knew who they were. They were a percentage of the 99 percent.
“These here would have us believe they had the same cause,” Marley said. “But show us a representative, Spirit. Let her [he pointed at me] see how different they are one from the other.”
Lo and behold, somehow, I could view several people, all at opposite ends of the courtyard, and I could also “hear” what they were thinking. Ironic, I thought, how some of the most normal-looking people had the darkest thoughts. It was as though their thoughts covered the light that their soul was trying to emanate. By contrast, one woman, wearing a ragged pair of ill-fitting khakis and a turban, and mumbling aloud to herself, had a tremendous pure, white light surrounding her—it was like” Surround Light.”
One of the other women was biting off a big drumstick of fast food chicken, thinking about the ipad she’d stolen a month before from someone in this very courtyard. It was back home at her place—well, her mother’s place, if you were technical about it. But how much longer could that old crone live, anyways? Besides, as soon as she published the “dirt” she’d gotten on some of these people while she’d been sitting here on the cold ground, she could move out and never look back. All she needed was a lucky break. Never had one yet. Sitting out here hadn’t been too bad, though. Better than sitting watching re-runs of reality tv. She took another chomp of chicken and picked up her sign in blood-red letters: “CRIMINALS,” and glared as a man in a dark suit but with a purple glow around his body, walked by. He smiled at her in bemusement. “Don’t look all “F*** U to me!” the woman shouted at him. “I can SEE who you are.”
But she couldn’t.
“It is not an ipad or a diamond ring or a new outfit that will bring peace to you. The Love of Things only exploits and numbs us,” the Spirit interjected. “It is Love of ourselves, and Love of others.”
I looked over at the woman of light, sitting in her tent thinking about her children. They would be well-taken care of after she was gone. She was making sure of that. They would have the opportunities she’d once had and sniffed at in better times. Things like health insurance. She had another six months at least, and she’d use it to wake a few people up. She’d been trying to help people out here, too—there were some who were sicker than she, and all without access to even the simple medical care that had brought her a diagnosis, if not chemo. She’d be working if she could. At least this was using some of the energy she had left for a future purpose, or a solution, if you looked at it with great optimism.
Scrooge: [tapping me on the shoulder]: That woman doesn’t know it now, but her attitude will enable her to live another 5 years, not just one.”Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.
All of a sudden, I felt myself lifting up again, and in seconds was looking down at a soup kitchen. I wasn’t in New York now. A huge banner wished everyone within eyesight: “Happy Holidays, Skid Row!!” Great light was all around, except for a few people. One man seemed to be talking to something I could not see at all, which was interesting, considering how far my vision could span. Another man leaned against the wall, recreating a rape he’d committed months ago, and then sneered as he remembered the man who had raped him. How old had he been then? 10? 11? Didn’t matter now. “Cut of the same cloth, we are,” he said out loud. And then he slithered back into the shadows so far I could see absolutely nothing.
Marley: Cold all of a sudden? Breathe in the light. It will warm all ‘round. And have some soup!
“These are the people who must see the light for the future to be light,” said the Spirit.
She blew me a little kiss, and the force of it lifted me off the ground, until I saw the Phantom of Christmas Future. It was as frightening a sight as I remembered from my childhood, and my inner gravity now tugged me back fast to Earth. I was worried I would hit the ground, but then it took off its hood. I could see that its face was beautiful, and from under its gloves, peachy, smooth, long-fingered hands emerged. Artist’s hands. I smiled as I realized what I’d been afraid of. And I floated back up.
Its voice was resonant when it spoke: “Your future is yours,” It said. “Your future is what you make it. I am what you make me. Look upon me and despair, o ye of little faith in your future. Look upon me and laugh, o ye of hope and peace.”
Scrooge guffawed a great belly laugh. Marley clapped and stomped his agreement.
I gasped as I realized how simple it was. I could hear water running, and then I realized I was back in my bed, and that I’d left the bathroom tap on.
And my gasp took in all I’d seen and heard and felt that night, and when I awoke to this world from my night dreams the next morning, all was well. I knew what I must do. I must share this message with you. Yet first I must share it within myself, letting it soak into every part of my body, heart, mind, and soul.
Marley: You do that, Girlie! We’ll see ye soon enough!
Scrooge: Don’t listen to that old fuss bugger, my dear! A long and happy life to you! And a very Merry Christmas. And to all, a healthy, happy New Year filled with mirth, joy and hope!
And then, I could swear I heard a little voice piping in:
God Bless Us! Every One!