Oh cold, cold, rigid Death, set up thine altar here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command: for this is thy dominion! But of the loved, revered, and honoured head, thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released; it is not that the heart and pulse are still; but that the hand WAS open, generous, and true; the heart brave, warm, and tender; and the pulse a man's. Strike, Shadow, strike! And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to sow the world with life immortal!
Not a passage from A Christmas Carol with which many readers are familiar. With its King James Bible language and its embodiment of Death, I thought this little excerpt would be quite an appropriate way to begin a post on Ash Wednesday. The Ghost of the Future has brought Scrooge to his death chamber to gaze upon his neglected body. The mini-sermon above touches upon the afterlife. Dickens' words pretty much lay it all out: to have life immortal, to be remembered after Death comes knocking, Scrooge must perform good deeds in his lifetime. Otherwise, there will be no honor in his death. There will be no person mourning his passing.
It's a terrifying little moment in the book, one of those Dickens' moments where he puts it all out there in very clear, unsubtle terms. I can almost hear Chuck crying out like John the Baptist, "Repent, ye sinners! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!"
That's what Charles Dickens in talking about in this passage. Being the best human being you can be, whether man or woman, Christian or Muslim, gay or straight, dog lover or cat lover, Democrat or Republican (although the Republican thing may be pushing it).
Leftover paczkis don't make you a better person, but I have my eye on one right now. I know that Ash Wednesday is about self denial and sacrifice, but I'm talking Bavarian cream here.
Saint Marty needs some self-restraint and a big glass of cold milk.