“Come in, come in! and know me better…”
~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Through mists of snow and dove grey skies, this Friday before Christmas dawned, the air brisk, yet a warmer bookend to the week’s beginning. Standing before my kitchen window, hands in suds, I watched a cardinal flash scarlet wing, land — hop, hop – searching sodden ice for unseen nibbles.
“Hopeless,” I thought. Still, the creature looked up and around, quizzically. Seemed to be thinking that food predicament out.
My own thoughts wisped about me, like peering through a fogged window on a train passing along remembered paths, chugging a rhythmic refrain… if only, it could… if only, it could…
Mentally, I reached across that mystical window with the side of my hand, rubbed a patch clear, as if to see more clearly. Saw then the stone walls, the brick building, the shapes of trees lining the courtyard; recognized the wide-windowed rooms where once upon a time we met over poetry and literature and lively conversations. Making my way to the front of the “train” of these thoughts, I alighted. And there, a quote inscribed on a hanging sign swung back and forth on a breeze. A sign that was never there physically…yet, one I seemed to feel had been there all along…
“Come in,” the swinging words invited merrily as Dickens’ Christmas character. “Come in and know me better…”
I stood there silently, taking in the import like water from a glass, and the silence filled up with other sounds. The scraping of chairs moving closer to desks. Laughter from one corner. Someone posing a question on the topic of the day…another answering with differing thoughts… a sharing back and forth where it wasn’t necessarily valuable to agree with one another as much as to let all openly throw out their viewpoints, listen, consider… offer your own. See the other side of the cup. Know me better…
I never came away from those class discussions with anger boiling against another’s ideas. Or felt as though I wanted to write them off as not worth knowing. Instead, I couldn’t wait till the next time we came together… to uncovering a bit more about how and why one person saw a piece we’d been reading this way and another that. That give and take… it made me want to really know my classmates and teacher. Their stories. Their dreams. Their hopes.
“It seemed so much more natural in those days, to care about people just for the joy of getting to know one another more and more,” I mused then, leaning over to stack plates in the dishwasher, remembering years of bits and pieces of conversations with family friends from all walks of life and sometimes different faith and how we loved each other for opening lives and hearts.
But, why has that changed?
What has altered life these days that makes us casually write off anyone who doesn’t think exactly the way we think? How have we arrived at this place where people feel righteously entitled to openly disrespect anyone with a differing view? Or to throw up walls and freeze someone out when they, falsely or truly, determine…hmm, maybe we don’t think enough alike.
Do I have to vote for the same person you vote for in order for you to be interested in knowing me as a person? Do we have to have lived identical lives for me to want to know more of what makes you laugh, cry, hope, dream?
“I am becoming increasingly convinced that our inability to let people be people and to love them whether or not they agree with us is really blinding us to truth,” someone astutely commented here recently, starring my eyes.
For I think of someone I’ve reached out to, wanting to know them more as people than I ever have before. I’ve always understood we didn’t share identical views on every little thing in life. It never mattered back when, because something in the talking of who we were made me love them. They made a difference in my life, shaped me in lovely ways.
Somehow now though, a high wall seems to have sprung up. A hand held up as if to say… I suspect we don’t have matching ideas so let’s just not communicate.
Words that seemed to begin flowing, suddenly trickling few and just barely enough.
I am saddened. Sorry to never hear more of the stories that make up this person’s heart. Sorry they don’t seem to want to know mine.
I believe we are meant to read each other’s stories like a book… to take wonder and joy in getting to discover what we value. And in this world where more and more we stand on opposite sides of a glass divider and just cast one another off as unworthy of our time… I can’t help thinking of my Christmas wish–
I want to send you flowers in the snow. To see your eyes light like sun diamonds on the winter white world.
And I want to receive some from you, too.
The little cardinal is still hopping vainly on the snowy drive outside my window. But… is it vainly? He sees what mist momentarily blinded me to… The Provider will not abandon…
“Ask and I will send My angels to sing circles of joy over these, for re-tendering, for melting away of fear and walls,” He offers to you and to me in this season of Christmas roses… “and watch the bouquets I bring forth…”
Bouquets of stories, shared heart to heart. (Can you think of someone you wish that for too?)
Now that would be heavenly grace spooling softly from heaven, snow on snow, this Christmas.
© Pam Depoyan
Love the antique photo of the child up top as much as I do? Click here to see the drawing I recently did from this charmer: