• Anne Royse

It's (Still) a Wonderful Life

I curled up on the couch with one of my daughters on the shortest day of the worst year that was, 2020, to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Everybody I know has struggled in one way or another this year. As the movie started, I said a little prayer for all the George Baileys out there. They say the darkest days of the pandemic are ahead. Even with the promise of a vaccine, we’ll need to get through a deadly winter.

God, Please be with all who are struggling during this challenging time. Wrap them in your love.

Early in the movie, we saw Mr. Gower lost in grief. The druggist’s son died of the Spanish Flu that infected about a third of the world’s population at the time. That hit different this year. As I was watching, someone was dying of Covid-19. Here in the USA, more than one person dies every minute from this pandemic.

I pulled up my fuzzy, warm blanket -- a gift of comfort from a friend when my dog died last week. I sipped my hot chocolate as George and Mary Bailey chose to forgo their honeymoon to help their community in a financial crisis. My daughter suggested we order takeout from a little local restaurant struggling to make ends meet.

God, Please be with all who are struggling during this challenging time. Wrap them in your love.

As we inched closer to the scene where George considers what his life is worth on top of the Bedford Falls bridge, I asked God to speak to my heart. I had been ruminating upon this scene for some time. You see, my birth father considered a similar fate. But he didn’t see an angel. He jumped to his death.

I never met my birth father. He didn’t know my name. But we corresponded anonymously for eight years using the adoption agency as the go-between. I have since gotten to know his family. Despite a life tormented with alcohol abuse, his life had a purpose. And it led to millions of children finding their purpose. I wrote a book about it but then put it on ice. Because, you know, 2020. Plus, my dad died (the one who adopted me), my dog died. I had a double back injury that had me getting out of bed with hiking poles. I could go on. But let’s just leave it at – a bad year. I know many have had far worse than me.

George ran his car into a tree and started to stumble onto the bridge. 2020 had us all stumbling. I retreated inward a bit. There’s too much noise out there anyway. Surely there are more important voices with something to say. I guess a lot of us do that, especially after being beaten down by 2020. We question. Why bother? What’s the point? And then Clarence jumped in. And George jumped in to save him.

We bother because we’re in this together. We need each other. In a cruel plot twist, this pandemic is forcing us to find ways to be there for each other even if we can’t be there with each other right now.

So maybe today, on Christmas day, when God gave the greatest gift to humanity, we can share the love. Whether it’s a simple smile, wearing a mask, or tipping a server a little more, let’s do this. Let's jump in to save one another. During a time when some might feel incredibly alone, let’s reach out to remind them that they’re not. We’re all in this together.

It’s still a wonderful life if we choose to love one another. We might just save ourselves.

God, Please be with all who are struggling during this challenging time. Let me be one of your angels to wrap them up in your love.

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