Essay,  Faith

Grinching triumph

Joan_fields“I know why the Grinch doesn’t like Christmas. Because his Sister Grinch died. And SHE was the one who wrapped all the presents and bought the pumpkins. She was the one who put up the lights. He can’t do it because he’s at work all day and he’s TIRED. That’s why he doesn’t like Christmas.”

-Joan, zeroing in on the near-Grinch lurking in all of us.

Things have felt mystifyingly terrible since that foolish and violent man was elected. It even feels hard to pray for, or hard to know where to begin with my prayers. The young soldiers who will soon be sent to more wars? The terminally sick who so-briefly had insurance that will be shoved off again? The companies that will move to other countries where skilled workers are accepted, regardless of their nationality? The police brutality that will unfold? Funny how things that feel very close and fragile can feel the hardest to pray for. Like it’s too risky for me to acknowledge how worried I am.

My friend suggested we start reading up on the resistance movement in world war II. (Here I always think of a favorite story of Norwegian citizens hopping on skiis and cleverly skiing in to disable a hydroelectric plant.) Joe’s family is Mennonite, a religious group that’s been quietly disagreeing with the government for years–deeply pacifist; attempting to redirect their taxes away from the military defense, devoted to issues of social justice and the marginalized. The idea of actively and consistently fighting with your government is not a new one. But it sounds mighty tiring. Though, I sort of fell in love with the idea of political PARTIES mentioned here.

Still, the hearth keepers must carry on, kneading the bread and chopping the kale, even as their ear tips towards the Diane Rehm Show playing in the background. Ruminate over ice skating lesson fees. Request a list of favorite Christmas books from the library. Remark upon the desperate need for plain candles in the house. Pull out coats and boots for the coat drives at church.

We didn’t guide the girls into beliefs of Santa as a gift-giver, but Joan is a big fan of his nonetheless, in the general good-citizen category. So I’ll map out a few places to take her to see him. (What if you could visit a favorite dignitary, and talk with them on a nice armchair for awhile?)



  • Lindsay Henry

    Thank you for sharing this! I needed to hear that I wasn’t alone in not even knowing where to start with my prayers after this week.

  • Sarah Thomas

    Now Diane Rehm is retiring, just when we need her the most!! Feels like another blow after this past week. Any other kick ass women journalist podcasts recommendations in her absence??

  • Sarah

    I love this verse. Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” We must pray, but also trust that the Lord is sovereign and will turn the water of his heart wherever he pleases.
    Additionally, here is a short excerpt from Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis that I love: (A senior demon, Screwtape, is writing to a junior demon, Wormwood, and the patient is the human on earth)
    “My dear Wormwood, be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure the patient continues to believe the the problem is “out there” in the “broken system” rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself. Keep up the good work, Uncle Screwtape”

    • Rachael

      Ah, I love picturing C.S. chuckling over this passage as he wrote. I am really fighting the anxiety and worry, I agree, we’re not called to it, and it wastes our brain power. THAT SAID, as my gaze roves over history–not just history, current day!–I find plenty of countries confused how they got the Worst Leader Ever. As I look back at myself in the election, I see myself being weirdly optimistic and blind, never really taking the moment to say what I thought, backing down from Facebook discussions, smirking at the idea we’d ever be here.

      I have a few verses that I’m taking comfort from; thank you for sharing yours! A special thing.

    • Rachael

      “But even if I think they were deeply wrong, I want to believe that they were trying to do their best.” Beautifully put, Cindy, thank you for sharing that with me. Heartbroken sums it up (though I never expected it).

  • Teresa

    Thank you for this post. You write beautifully and your ability to acknowledge the “mystifyingly terrible” on one hand while cupping the glowing — if fragile — flame of hope in the other is a gift. I guess that’s the scary and exhilarating and necessary tightrope that we all have to walk. And, your painting of Santa as a general-good-citizen/favorite dignitary made my day. Again, thanks.

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