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By Eric A. Clayton

What do you know about Scrooge McDuck?

A few things, I’m sure, come immediately to mind: He’s the uncle of Donald Duck and the great uncle of Huey, Dewey and Louie. He’s named for the classic Dickens’ character, Ebenezer Scrooge, which naturally evokes characteristics of greed and general miserliness. As a result, you can guess that he’s been cast more than once in various Disney retellings of “A Christmas Carol” for the role that is his namesake. And you might be able to deduce that he is Scottish-born, and while he now lives in Duckburg, Scrooge McDuck — the richest duck in the world — has retained his native-born accent.

For reasons that are beyond the scope of this reflection, I’ve had cause to return to the classic Disney animated television series “DuckTales.” (Not the new one; the one that aired from 1987 – 1990.) And in making this trek back into my childhood, I’ve come to a startling realization: I barely know Scrooge McDuck at all!

“He’s like the Indiana Jones of the Disney universe!” a buddy said to me not long ago — a direct quote that has stayed with me for weeks. (Because what else would two 30-somethings be discussing?)

And by now I expect I’ve used up just about all of your patience in my musing about a random cartoon duck and need to quickly make a useful point.

Here it is: Scrooge McDuck walks among us every day of the week. And by that I mean, we’ve failed or forgotten to see people fully for all that they are, the good and the bad and the indifferent. We allow generalizations and assumptions and whatever our rather poor memories can retain to inform how we encounter and love God’s beloved creatures — ducks, humans, the whole of creation.

The stakes are quite low when it comes to how I remember a cartoon duck. But I was genuinely excited to learn that old Uncle Scrooge didn’t simply sit atop his piles of money but left Duckburg to go on adventures with his nephews. I’d forgotten or simply never knew this part of the character. And while he probably could stand to give a bit more to charity, the drive to explore and learn and be challenged added a new layer to a character that I’ve known all my life.

And of course, the message is obvious for us in our day, right? We need to allow one another to be the full human being we each in fact are. We must not limit or reduce one another to our worst days, our biggest errors or even our most outrageous successes. We must not trap one another in a past moment but rather permit the ongoing growth and development and conversion that is necessary and inherent to every single one of our lives.

But here’s why — and I think this is essential. Again and again in my own prayer, I return to the 15th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises in which St. Ignatius reminds spiritual directors to get out of the way of our God who desires to deal directly with us, God’s beloved creatures. And while this might sound obvious, what this means is quite remarkable:

God is still dealing with us. God still desires to enter intimately and directly into the very fabric of our stories. The Holy Spirit is working right now within us — and our vocation continues to unfold.

Uncle Scrooge is a miser. The guy owns a money bin — that’s some Standard of the Enemy-level stuff if ever I’ve seen it. But that duck also loves adventure, and he loves his family. He’s more than just a character that cautions us against greed.

And so are we — more than a single thing, I mean. So take time to wander back into your past, to develop a disposition of curiosity and wonder and awe toward yourself and others. Because the Spirit is still at work; we are all still growing deeper into God’s dream for us and for our world.

Let’s not end the story before we get to the good part.

This reflection is part of the award-winning weekly email series, “Now Discern This.” If you’d like to get reflections like this one directly in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here.

a person smiling for the cameraEric A. Clayton is the award-winning author of Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith and My Life with the Jedi: The Spirituality of Star Wars, an exploration of Star Wars through the lens of Ignatian spirituality (Loyola Press). He is the deputy director of communications at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. His essays on spirituality, parenting and pop culture have appeared in America MagazineNational Catholic ReporterU.S. Catholic, Busted Halo and more, and he is a regular contributor to Give Us This Day, IgnatianSpirituality.com and Dork Side of the Force, where he blogs about Star Wars. His fiction has been published by Black Hare Press, Small Wonders Magazine, Air and Nothingness Press and more.  Sign up for his Substack “Story Scraps” here. He lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife, two young daughters and their cat.