Two days after Christmas . . . and while the lights might still glow on the tree, the post-Christmas revelry can begin to give way to post-Christmas despair. And post-Christmas despair, can easily transform one into a joyless grinch. Just ask the green-meany himself, Mr. Grinch:
“. . .The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small . . . .” (Suess)
The green meany’s heart isn’t just two sizes too small; it’s an empty hole. A black hole, a hollow cavern, a chasm wider than the Grand Canyon, a great abyss, a negative 36-inch head-to-heart gap.
A heart two-sizes-too-small created by a -36 inch gaping incision is a heart devoid of all joy. Perhaps it was slow internal bleeding that caused Mr. Grinch to suffer a debilitating “heart-ittude” attack. In one excruciating painful moment arteries slammed shut like a steel trap, snarly thorns punctured then crushed both ventricles, and blood flow coagulated cold in its tracks. Left with only thorny peripheral vision, the Grinch is blinded to all beauty, but especially pied beauty. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune left ‘Ole Grinchy with an unwillingness, perhaps even an inability, to take up arms against a sea of trouble.
With a double negative head-to-heart gap like that, one needs little imagination to see why the Grinch loathed Christmas.
A mostly dead heart wreaks as it rots. A mostly dead, two-sizes-too-small, decomposing, moldy-purple spotted, empty-holed heart would rather try to steal joy than experience joy.
“. . . But,
Whatever the reason,
His heart or his shoes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown . . . .
‘Tomorrow is Christmas!
It’s practically here!’
Then he growled, with his grinch fingers nervously drumming,
‘I must find a way to keep Christmas from coming!’ . . . .” (Suess)
In the hard, hard moments, the Grinch had a choice: a heart-ittude choice . . . albeit, a hard, hard choice . . . but a choice nevertheless. When life didn’t play fairly, when life came at him hard, when life came at him faster than a speeding bullet . . . the ‘ole Grinch had a choice.
The question is: Did the Grinch want to see?
If a life-debilitating heart-ittude attack is any indication, well, you have your answer. Probably not. When he chose to peek, well, in a word, all he saw was: THORNS.
What the Grinch beheld, he became. When life didn’t play fair, he chose to behold the ugliness rather than the hidden beauty. Eventually, the very thing designed to protect the delicate beauty grows larger than life and becomes a grisly, foul, repulsively imposing impenetrable fortress surrounding his heart. He beheld ugliness and became ugliness. The heart is the reflection of the soul.
A heart devoid of all joy would rather try to steal joy than experience joy.
“. . . And THEN
They’d do something he liked least of all!
Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Would stand close together, with Christmas bells ringing,
They’d stand hand-in-hand. And the Whos would start singing! . . .
“They’d sing! And they’d sing!
AND they’d SING! SING! SING! SING!
And the more the Grinch thought of the Who-Christmas-Sing
The more the Grinch thought, ‘I must stop this whole thing!
Why for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!
I MUST stop Christmas from coming!
. . . But HOW?’
“Then he got an idea!
An awful idea! . . .
“‘I know just what to do!’ The Grinch laughed in his throat,
And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat.
And he chuckled, and clucked, ‘What a great Grinchy trick!
With this coat and this hat, I’ll look just like Saint Nick!’ . . .
“. . . THEN
He loaded some bags
And some old empty sacks
On a ramshakle sleigh
And he hitched up old Max . . .
“And the sleigh started down
Toward the homes where the Whos
Lay a-snooze in their town . . . .
“All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air.
All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams without care
‘This is stop number one,’ The old Grinchy Claus hissed
And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist.
“Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch.
But if Santa could do it, then so could the Grinch . . .
Where the little Who stockings all hung in a row.
‘These stockings,’ he grinned, ‘are the first things to go!’
“Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took every present!
Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums!
Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums!
And he stuffed them in bags. Then the Grinch, very nimbly,
Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney!
“Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos’ feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!
“Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
‘And NOW!’ grinned the Grinch, ‘I will stuff up the tree!’ . . . .”
“. . . HE went to the chimney and stuffed the tree up!
“Then the last thing he took
Was the log for their fire.
Then he went up the chimney himself, . . .
On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire.
“And the one speck of food
That he left in the house
Was a crumb that was even too small for a mouse.
He did the same thing
To the other Whos’ houses
Much too small
For the other Whos’ mouses!
On their walls he left nothing but hooks, and some wire.
“It was quarter past dawn . . .
When he packed up his sled,
Packed it up with their presents! The ribbons! The wrappings!
The tags! And the tinsel! The trimmings! The trappings!
“Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mount Crumpit,
He rode to the tiptop to dump it!
‘Pooh-pooh to the Whos!’ he was ginch-ish-ly humming.
‘They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their mouths will hang open a minute or two
Then all the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry ‘BOO-HOO!” . . . ” (Suess)
The Grinch returns to his dark, gloomy cave feeling rather proud of himself and anticipating the great Christmas heist, his attempt to steal the Whos’ Christmas, to steal their joy, was successful.
“‘That’s a noise,’ grinned the Grinch,
That I simply must hear!’
So he paused. And the Grinch put a hand to his ear. . . .”
” . . . the sound wasn’t sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!
“He stared down at Who-ville!
The Grinch popped his eyes!
Then he shook!
What he saw was a shocking surprise! . . . .” (Suess)
You see, the Grinch’s thorny peripheral vision couldn’t grasp what the Whos’ pied beauty perspective did: joy hides in gratitude.
“Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Without any presents at all!. . . .”
“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
“And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: ‘How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!’ . . . . ” (Suess)
Perhaps the secret to real joy lies in what I’m choosing to see. In what I’m choosing to behold. What do I really want? When the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune begin chipping away at my heart, do I choose to take up a sea of arms against it? Do I pause to give thanks for the hidden beauty in the moment? Do I choose impossible or inevitable?
“When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” ~Psalm 27: 2, 3
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it . . . .” If joy hides in gratitude, then why am I choosing Mission: Mt. Sinai over Mission: Impossible?
Is it possible, should I choose to accept the Mission, that the quest of engaging in the Euchariesto forces ‘already impossibly hard’ to make sense? That choosing to accept the mission of giving thanks in the midst of life attacking on all fronts somehow allows me to see beauty? Enables me to discover joy? Enables me to rise above the fear? Yields confidence?
How is that possible??
“. . . And he puzzled three hours, ’till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more!'” (Suess)
When I give thanks for the gifts, the graces, already given (Euchariesto) my heart is enlarged for more grace. When I give thanks for the gifts already given, my heart is enlarged for Him to dwell. When I behold beauty, I discover joy.
“. . . And what happened then . . . ?
Well . . . in Who-ville they say
That the Ginch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day! . . . (Suess)
Taking action in the midst of “impossibly hard”, while I’m waiting for deliverance, offering praise, offering thanksgiving, when it’s the last thing I want to do. In the moments when it seems easier to slam the door shut in His face, to refuse to name the moments for each one is: grace, gifts. When another lap around Mt. Sinai is equated with a more productive use of time and energy – these are the moments I must choose:
Do I choose to trust and practice a difficult Euchariesto or do I choose to give into the despair, fear, and anxiety that comes with yet another inevitable lap?
“. . . And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he . . .
“. . . HE HIMSELF . . . !
The Grinch carved the roast beast!” (Suess)
It’s the expectation, the anticipation, the eagerness of looking for the One whose beauty is past change – that invites His presence, invites Him into the moment, invites Heaven to invade Earth. Invites His glory, invites His goodness, invites His grace, invites transformation. Behold beauty and the ugly becomes beautiful.
The question is: What do I really want?
Accept Mission: Impossible and discover beauty. Accept Mission: Impossible and discover grace. Accept Mission: Impossible and discover joy. Accept Mission: Impossible and discover His mercies which are new every morning. Accept Mission: Impossible and discover the One who holds.
What I behold, I become.
What I’m beholding, I’m becoming.
What I’ve beheld, I’ve become.
“There is more beauty than our eyes can bear, precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm.” ~Rev. John Ames (McDonald, 74)