Have you ever seen Scrooged, the late 80’s twist on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring Bill Murray? Or It’s a Wonderful Life? Or even Elf? It seems that so many Christmas movies have the same ending scene – a character who had become bitter or hopeless finds the love in their hearts again, and it spreads throughout the crowds of people around them.
I’m a sucker for these movies. I watched Scrooged on Christmas Eve as a baking backdrop, and ended up weeping, singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” for the rest of the night. Since it fits so well with the theme of this post, I included here for your listening (and viewing!) pleasure.
Unfortunately, I think some of the depression that people sometimes feel around the holidays is due to movies like these – since the magic in these movies almost always occurs on Christmas, it leaves a lot of us out. Say, for example, any of the following apply to you:
- You’re not Christian and so Christmas has the same emotional meaning to you as Labor Day.
- You’re angry, overwhelmed, broke, overscheduled from the ‘joyful’ giving season.
- You’re alone on Christmas, envisioning your solitary death with no one’s life affected by your existence.
- You’re with your family on Christmas, desperately wishing you were alone or part of a family you actually want to spend time with.
I think it’s time for us to uncouple “joy in our hearts, peace on Earth and goodwill towards men (and women!)” from Christmas. They’re associated culturally, but in fact, all that good stuff is available anytime, and it’s always our choice.
Will we choose love? Or will we choose fear?
That is the fundamental question of this month’s book, Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love. Marianne was a student of the metaphysical book, A Course in Miracles – a dense tome fraught with challenges for people of multiple religions. If you are not Christian, you may be seriously turned off by the Christic terminology. If you are Christian, you may be horrified to be reading a channeled work that makes proclamations about Jesus. Either way, the Course can be a tough read.
Marianne takes this challenging book and distills it beautifully, filtering through her own experiences so we’re able to relate. My copy of A Return to Love is the audio version, and I can’t listen to ten minutes of it without coming across a profound piece of wisdom that I can contemplate for hours.
She speaks of surrendering to God (or Love, interchangeably), of turning your life over to Him (or Her, I’m using Him as it was Marianne’s choice.) She speaks of the Atonement, of allowing the Holy Spirit into your life. She speaks of us being perfect, whole – creations of God – and all that is ‘wrong’ with us is our own self-perception.
“Your job is to allow the Holy Spirit to remove the fearful thinking that surrounds your perfect self.”
She speaks of forgiveness, of being willing to see the innocence in all people. She speaks of choosing to see Love in all things, in all situations. Like so many religious texts, the Course speaks of forgiveness as the ultimate act. So often I think we interpret forgiveness to mean that we have no boundaries. Marianne gives a great example of forgiveness in the book, of a man she was dating who didn’t treat her very well. She prayed to forgive him for weeks, and when he called again, she was able to act lovingly towards him while establishing a credible boundary.
“Dear God, I surrender this relationship to you,” means, “Dear God, let me see this person through your eyes.” In accepting the Atonement, we are asking to see as God sees, think as God thinks, love as God loves. We are asking for help in seeing someone’s innocence.”
She speaks of life lessons, of personal growth, of life as a journey of healing:
“Someone with whom we have a lifetime’s worth of lessons to learn is someone whose presence in our lives forces us to grow. Sometimes it represents someone with whom we participate lovingly all our lives, and sometimes it represents someone who we experience as a thorn in our side for years, or even forever. Just because someone has a lot to teach us, doesn’t mean we like them.
People who have the most to teach us are often the ones who reflect back to us the limits to our own capacity to love, those who consciously or unconsciously challenge our fearful positions. They show us our walls. Our walls are our wounds—the places where we feel we can’t love any more, can’t connect any more deeply, can’t forgive past a certain point. We are in each other’s lives in order to help us see where we most need healing, and in order to help us heal.”
She speaks of allowing Love into our hearts, consciously inviting the Holy Spirit in to correct our thinking. If you are looking for the real-life equivalent of a Christmas movie ending, A Return to Love is a guidebook on how to live it.
If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Otherwise, leave a comment with your favorite “love and goodwill to all” movie ending, so we can all expand our repertoire! (Mine is, by far, Strictly Ballroom. One of my favorite movies of all time, and even having watched it 50+ times, the ending gets me every single time!)
Marianne’s work speaks best for itself, which is why I’ve created a printable PDF for you of some additional quotes from the book. You can get it here. If you like it, sign up below for instant access to my full library of printable quotes, tools, and guided meditation MP3s.