Tuesday, July 18, 2017

This Does Not Define You

I didn't think anything could bump The Iron Giant out of my favourite Disney slot ... but have you seen Moana?

*spoiler alert*

I know I'm super late to the Moana party, but wow.
That scene at the end?
It gets me every time. I turn into a crying mess. (Which Sam adores - he loves when I cry over a movie, and he asks a million questions to untangle precisely why I'm tearing through the kleenex.)

If you who haven't yet seen it, here is a super-condensed summary. Moana is our heroine. She's the daughter of a chief on an island, and in order to save the island she has to voyage across the sea to restore the stolen heart of the goddess Te Fiti.

Her final and greatest obstacle is the lava monster, Te Ka, who lives on a reef surrounding the island of Te Fiti.  When she overcomes and finally reaches Te Fiti, Moana is taken aback because ... Te Fiti is gone.  She turns, bewildered, to look back at the raging lava monster, and suddenly sees that the heart (a stone with a spiral pattern) fits exactly into the seething lava chest of Te Ka.

Te Ka is who Te Fiti became without her heart. And I feel like I'm looking at a picture of humanity as God made us, and humanity as we are now.

At Moana's request, her friend the ocean separates and makes a path to Te Ka.

Te Ka, no longer impeded by the water, races across the ocean floor to kill Moana.  She doesn't run or scream or hide - Moana holds the gleaming heart up high and walks toward Te Ka, singing, "I have crossed the horizon to find you.  I know your name!"

The music is moving, beautiful, and the images are poetry.  The lava monster, sheer rage, howling and snarling; Moana, full of hope and pity. 

But the part that gets me isn't the incredible talent that was poured into the movie.

It's the familiarity of it.

This is my story.  My story. I know that rage, that helpless wounded anger of being hurt, changed, into a person I don't want to be.  My heart stolen, and being trapped in misery.  Yeah. I feel you, Te Ka.

But even more - deeper, older - ... it's our story. We long for better.  We ache to be restored, to be whole and pure and flowing with life.  We want that Garden, where we walked with God and worked without impediment and rejoiced in love. 

Moana keeps singing: "This does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you are. Who you truly are."

We know this isn't right. Greed, arrogance, violence,  ... they're not the way things have always been.  They're monstrous and they hurt us because they ruin.  There was better. Once we knew wholeness and life and joy. This is not who we are.

And Jesus crossed a horizon to find us. And Jesus knows our name (our names!).  And Jesus came to restore - oh, not just one heart, but every heart.  And He walked right up to the fierce lava monster and stretched out His hands and restored its heart.

And my heart.

And my heart.

Yeah. I love that story. My story.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Weeds and Wildflowers

I saw the sweetest little moment today.  I was sitting in the parking lot with the kids while Patrick ran into the store to grab some things. It was raining, and a couple walked out of the store.  The woman opened her umbrella and walked to the car while the man stopped to tie his sneaker.  As he followed her across the parking lot, a smile stretched across his face and he pulled out his phone and snapped a picture.

It was just sweet.  He thought she was so beautiful walking with her umbrella - it made him smile, made him want to save the moment.

Because love sees beauty.

On our way to Michigan for a family vacation last week, I had the opposite experience.  We'd been driving for a few hours and it felt like Vava had whined for every single one.  I snapped at her and told her to stop, which (you guessed it) prompted more whining.  I lost my temper, yelled at her, and then felt like a rotten parent. And when she whined again less than a minute later, I'd had enough. I asked Patrick to pull over so I could take a walk and cool down before I lost my temper again.

I stalked off up the highway, growling to myself about her whining, picking my way past weeds and occasional litter.  After a while, I noticed a stem of tiny little orange flowers blooming, and part of my mind thought "Vava would love those!" And a crankier selfish part stepped stubbornly over them.

And I saw them again, and God gently stopped my mental tirade, asked me what my frustration could accomplish, what purpose could it serve.

It could make me yell and fill me up with rage and ruin our day.

But on the other hand, maybe it's like a check engine light and it could make me aware that something is wrong. Maybe Vava's having a bad day, maybe she needs a little extra love, maybe she needs a bouquet of flowers.

I opened up my ragey, knotted little heart and shook the anger out.

I picked up the flowers and turned back.

I saw some more flowers - blue ones this time; she'd love them. So I picked those too, and found some daisies.  I laughed.  I'd walked right over all these wildflowers and hadn't seen a thing.  Brown-eyed Susans, right in my path.  Foxtails and cattails and tiny white stars.

By the time I got back to the car, I had a bouquet.  I gave them to a thrilled Vava and told her I loved her and asked what was wrong. We had a quick chat to sort out the problem that was stewing between her and Sam, a hug and kiss and went on our way.

I couldn't stop thinking about the way my anger had made me blind to the blooming wildflowers. I hadn't seen them at all.  What had I noticed?  Weeds and garbage.  But as soon as I chose love? I saw beauty.

Anger and love see such very different things.

I'd kind of forgotten about it until tonight when that happy little vignette reminded me that love sees beauty.  So I thought I'd write it down over here and try to remember.

If it's been a weeds and garbage weekend, I hope you have a wildflower Monday tomorrow, friends.