Photo used under Creative Commons from Castles, Capes & Clones
Here's Dopey in all his glory, portraying the one who never rejects, the innocent, the one who needs to be cared for by the stronger and the wiser. His gift to the world is not his brains or his brawn, nor is it what he will build and accomplish in his lifetime. His gift is his freely given gift of love; a gift of pure, true love that doesn't covet or grasp, but just shines and sparkles. It is an image of God's love.
This ornament reminds me of the old saying that when a soul is created, God "kisses" it, and for the rest of our lives we search for the giver of that kiss. That kiss was where we found safety, fulfillment, completion and everything our hearts desire.
Dopey also reminds me of Pip, the young character in Melville's Moby Dick. One of my English professors shared his interpretation of Pip's change in the novel in this way: "Before Pip falls over the edge and into the sea, he is fairly normal. But after his encounter with the great, white whale, down there in the depths, he is changed forever. One cannot have an encounter with the Great Thing and remain unchanged. He is "kissed" by God. When he appears back on deck, the crew judges that Pip's meeting with the mighty whale has simply addled his brains, making him into a simpleton. But they are wrong. Pip has been changed in the core of his being, and that doesn't translate into resuming a normal life. The whale has placed his seal on his forehead." Have you had such an encounter? Or are you still a crew member, searching for the Great White Whale?
A Very Merry Christmas Tree
by Robert Chad
The Christmas tree is one of the archetypal symbols of the season. It represents the victory over the worship of the pagan gods, specifically through the cutting down of the evergreen pine trees and bringing them into the home, the realm of humanity. Before Christ, people assumed that certain trees could stay green in the midst of winter due to the presence of the life-force of a god. Cutting the trees was a definitive action of claiming victory over death, not through the tree god but through the light and life of Christ.
Here, Dopey and Grumpy take on the form of the Christmas tree. How very appropriate! The selection of these two particular dwarves represents both Mercy (Dopey) and Justice (Grumpy.) This ornament visually portrays the gratuitous nature of God, in that his Mercy trumps his Justice.
Dopey is a symbol of mercy. God's mercy is a gift. It is not earned or merited. Rather, it is an outpouring of God's own divine life of love. Like Dopey, it can't be understood rationally or intellectually, at least only dimly. We just really don't understand how God can be THAT merciful, ALL the time. This is one of those mysteries that lie at the heart of who God is.
Yet, mercy is not separate from God's justice. Like Dopey standing on Grumpy's shoulders, mercy flows from justice. Christoph Cardinal Schornborn quotes Pope Benedict, in We Have Found Mercy: The Mystery of God's Merciful Love, when he asks "what sort of mercy would it be if it simply glossed over all suffering and injustice? The judgment of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice - the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all." We understand Grumpy, but Dopey remains largely mystery.