Scrooge reminds us of charitable needs

Published 3:18 pm Saturday, December 10, 2011

By Ann Austin, Live United

Fresh snow is on the ground and we are drawing inside to the warmth of our homes. It is a time of year when we recognize our vulnerability as human beings. And we gather close to our family and friends to provide us warmth and comfort.

Ann Austin

We are vulnerable in many ways, but I would maintain that we are most vulnerable emotionally. The words or actions of those around us can provide us with deeper and more painful scars than anything that is inflicted on us physically.

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Often this hurt is hidden from the world and becomes buried inside people — sometimes it remains with them throughout their life and becomes such a part of their reality that it alters who they are.

The local ACT Theater performed “A Christmas Carol” the last two weeks, a wonderful reminder of how the choices we make in our lives can leave us out in the cold, emotionally.

Scrooge is, of course, the character who realizes the choices he made have resulted in a large, empty home and evenings by himself, counting money. His life is barren of love, of experiencing all of the joys that come with being loved: engagement in life, warmth of heart, true freedom of spirit.

Of course, Scrooge comes to realize that it wasn’t the people around him who had abandoned him; he chose to shut them out. With any good story, it wasn’t too late for him to redeem his life and start over by following his heart. And when he did this, there was an outpouring of love that was expressed by giving of himself to all he met—whether it was with gifts, money or a jovial attitude of thankfulness.

When he was so focused on money and material things, Scrooge felt impoverished because he was living only for himself. Once he began to think of others and ways he could help them, he was a rich man indeed!

I have had the opportunity to meditate on the concept of humility this year. It may seem to be defeating when one is humbled, but it is actually a gift. Because we are freed from an attachment to self — and we begin to look around us to a world that has many more possibilities than what we realize when we are so focused on our own reality.

A wonderful book titled “Humility” by Andrew Murray contains this passage: “Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure. Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude.”

Scrooge was humbled by his three visitors, in a variety of ways. His heart had been so hardened over the years that it took quite a bit of effort to soften him up. We have the opportunity to be humbled every day, and benefit from the gift of recognizing that it truly is better to give than to receive.

There are many ways you can give back this holiday season. Here are a few ideas:

Donations to Semcac are accepted year-round:

(Items may be dropped off at their site: 2202 Stevens Street or call 373-1329.)

• Gas card and transit tokens (to get to work and appointments)

• Socks of all sizes, gloves, hats, scarves

• Laundry soap, shampoo, bathroom tissue

• Diapers

Donations to The Rock are accepted year-round:

(Items may be dropped off at their Clark Street location.)

• Carrots, apples, fresh produce

• Peanut butter and jelly

• Milk and cookies

• Boots/shoes (children’s sizes)

• Mittens, hats, scarves, coats

Ann Austin is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.