Santa Clause it seems is the original abolitionist! I love that and thought I’d share this encouraging story hoping you’ll better understand how he fought for women.
The true story begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time, the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. So Nicholas himself was an orphan. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Now this is the part of his story that is near and dear to my heart. People tell of how Nicholas knew of a poor man with three daughters. In those days, a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries.
Working in the store yesterday, I sold a wall hanging to my friend Glenn for his wife. The piece was a dowry piece, made for an orphan girl by women in a village in Kutch since she had no one to help her prepare her dowry. We had a long conversation about dowries and the different traditions held by Jewish and Arab cultures, as well as other indigenous tribes with whom I am familiar. Even today, there are women around the world who are considered worthless without a dowry. And in India, there are still many brides who are burned when their dowries are not sufficient.
So as I think of Saint Nicholas, or Santa Clause as many call him, I remember how he loved women well. I also think of the women around the world in need of dowries, and orphans in need of the love of a mother and father. Let’s all remember how, “Yes, Virginia – there is a Santa Clause” and sometimes, it looks like you and me!