Summary: People spend their time thinking of many things when their time is their own with no distractions. They may stare at a fire, the stars, or out a window, and there is as much variety in those things we think about as there are ways to do it. We think abo

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December 10, 1995 -- AM: The Dreams of Christmas, Part II


Luke 2:8-19


From the closing words of Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, come these insights to the ponderings of the human heart:

Here was Louisa on the night of the same day, watching the fire as in days of yore, though with a gentler and a humbler face. How much of the future might arise before her vision? Broadsides in the streets, signed with her Father’s s name, exonerating the late Stephen Blackpool weaver from misplaced suspicion, and publishing the guilt o his own þ son, with such extenuation as his years and temptation (he could not bring himself to add his education) might beseech were of the Present. So, Stephen Blackpool’s tombstone, with he father’s record of his death, was almost of the Present, for she knew it was to be. ’These things she could plainly see. But, how much of the future?

A working woman christened Rachael, after a long illness once again appearing at the ringing of the Factory bell, and passing to and fro at the set hours, among the Coketown Hands; a woman of a pensive beauty, always dressed in black, but sweet-tempered and serene, and even cheerful; who, of all the people in the place, alone appeared to have compassion on a degraded, drunken wretch of her own sex, who was sometimes seen in the town secretly begging of her, and crying to her; a woman working, ever working, but content and preferring to do it as her natural lot, until she should be too old to labor any more? Did Louisa see this? Such a thing was to be.

A lonely brother, many thousands of miles away, writing, on paper blotted with tears, that her words had too þ soon come true, and that all the treasures in the world would be cheaply bartered for a sight of her dear face? At length this brother coming nearer home, with hope of seeing her, and being delayed by illness; and then a letter, in a strange hand, saying "he died in hospital, of fever, such a day, and died in penitence and love of you -- his last word being your name"? Did Louisa see these things? Such things were to be.

Herself again a wife-a mother-lovingly watchful of her children, ever careful that they should have a childhood of the mind no less than a childhood of the body, as knowing it to be even a more beautiful thing, and a possession, any hoarded scrap of which is a blessing þ and happiness to the wisest? Did Louisa see this? Such a thing was never to be.

But, happy Sissy’s happy children loving her; all children loving her; she, grown learned in childish lore; thinking no innocent and pretty fancy ever to be despised; trying hard to know her humbler fellow-creatures, and to beautify their lives of machinery and reality with those imaginative graces and delights, without which the heart of infancy will wither up, the sturdiest physical manhood will be morally stark death, and the plainest national prosperity figures can show, will be the Writing on the Wall, she holding this course as part of no fantastic vow, or bond, or brotherhood, or sisterhood, or pledge, or covenant or fancy dress, or fancy fair; but simply as a duty to be done, Did Louisa see these things of herself? These things were to be.

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