Christmas: Listen for the Bell that Keeps Your Dreams Alive

by Archie Wortham    –show me more like this

Christmas child
Christmas © Jose Manuel Gelpi – All rights reserved.

“At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but years passed, it fell silent for all of them…. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe,” are the closing words in Chris Van Allsburg’s Christmas book, The Polar Express. This is dedicated to those “who truly believe.”

Each year, I learn to believe in things I’d forgotten to believe in, to see things I couldn’t see before. Each year I’m blessed with the opportunity to experience portions of the childhood I’d forgotten. I learn to relish the opportunity of understanding how I got to be the person I am, as I again find the little kid in me, as I realize how important it is I keep in touch with that little kid. Who that little kid became has a bearing on who my sons will someday become because of the little kid I let them see. Experiences make us who we are. Experiences help us realize we are okay, as we learn to accept whatever nourishment God sends our way, and grow in spite of the test of time, the winds that try to bend us, the mountains we learn to climb, or the potholes we try to ignore.

As I grew, and in many cases, marched to a different drummer, the little drummer boy I became seemed only to come alive when I could hear the bell. At times that bell fell silent. Why? What caused the silence? I don’t really know. Maybe it was because I didn’t want to hear the bell anymore. Maybe it was because I was too involved in being who I thought people wanted me to be, and didn’t let others see me. Maybe it was because I was scared. Scared I was the only one listening for the bell to ring. Scared I could be wrong and everyone else was right. Scared my faith was mislaid. But what I’m sure of now is I want my kids to see and hear every drumbeat I make and be aware of the faith that has sustained me in spite of myself. Kids are powerful mirrors!

I learned that what I believe…they reflect. What I ignore…they regard as unimportant, insignificant, and meaningless. When I noticed an absence of laughter in their lives, I reflected on my lack of laughter. When I noticed a renunciation of things that should’ve been important, I reevaluated my values, and found an absence of the dreams I’d clung to as a kid…of what I was going to do and be when I grew up and why!

People forget a lot. Like why we became parents! And, as I’m sure your sons and daughters [as ours] have made many of you blatantly aware: parenting is work! And parenting is no easier now than it was when our moms and dads did it. If anything parenting might be harder now, because so many things compete for our kids’ time today, let alone their dreams. Remember your dreams? Don’t forget them, or let them die.

Why dwell on this during the holiday season? Why not? Christmas has always been a time when we’re told miracles occur. Christmas is generally a time when we experience some of our highest highs, or lowest lows.

Deaths, estrangement, divorce or terrorism may have taken something from your lives. Don’t let that kill you. Don’t let those events keep the bell silent. Each of these events hurt. I’m not denying that! But we are in this together, part of a collective body. There are choruses of people around us, wanting to be a part of our lives, if we let them. Let them! Do not let evil steal from you what God wants all of us to have—happiness, as sure as it’s written into our Declaration of Independence.

Be independent and fervent in your pursuit of happiness. Seek out those who love you. Remember those who’ve died, by keeping their memories alive. When we allow people to rob us of the things that are most dear to us, we lose the battle that leads to our own salvation. Don’t let that happen. Keep your dreams alive. Have a Merry Christmas, and listen for the bell!