Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AM I the Only One Who Is Afraid To See Passion Of The Christ?

When I was about twelve years old I found myself in a love/hate relationship with a daytime television show. It was called Dark Shadows.  Every afternoon after school, my brother and I would turn on the
television to be scared to death. The show always began with eerie music and scenes of the cast. Barnabas, who was a vampire, was the star. Of course, the cast had no idea about his well-guarded secret.

Barnabas was in love with a woman name Angelique. She had died hundreds of years before, but his love for her never died. We watched in horror as Barnabas planned to woo a woman who looked amazingly like Angelique. He planned to bite her on the neck so that she too would become a vampire. The scenario was always the same. Barnabas would invite his unsuspecting victim over to his house or some other place so that they could be alone.

We wanted to warn her. We tried yelling at the television set, "Don’t go in there! He’s a vampire! Stay away!" But of course she could not hear us. As the suspense grew, the music changed in order to reflect the new, intense mood of the plot. I found myself squirming in my seat. I just couldn't SIT THERE and watch this poor woman be bitten by a vampire! So, I did what every red blooded American kid would do…I RAN!

Leaving the room really didn’t help. I wasn’t able to make myself go very far, just barely out of the room; out of the view of the television set.  I could still tell something was going on. That music! I will never forget
that music! I peaked around the corner so that I could see. Fridays were especially frightening. I wanted to see, and yet I did not want to see.  My brother, a year younger than I, thought my behavior was down right
stupid. He just didn’t understand! If I watched the show from around the corner I was well prepared to run if anything really bad started to happen. Week after week, Angelique somehow escaped the bite of the
vampire. Whew! I get chills just thinking about it!

Okay, you’re laughing at me. I can hear you from here. I’ll just bet you have a movie, or TV show story of your own to tell. When we sit before the screen and watch as a well told story unfolds; we are drawn into it as if we were there. Our intellect tells us that it is all just a show, actors portraying parts, lines memorized, a story acted out with makeup and wardrobe worn. However, if our hearts become involved we loose all sense of reality. The story can bring tears to our eyes, cause our blood to boil, or make us cheer out loud.  

Somehow, we allow ourselves to be lost in the story. Transported to another time and place, we connect with the characters and share the experience as if we were there ourselves. It is that deep emotional connection that keeps us coming back for more. We watch TV, and attend movies to be frightened, amazed, inspired, made to laugh, and cry all at the same time. It is a fantasy world in which the good guys always win and  problems can be solved in just a couple of hours. 

As we leave the theater and step out into the fresh air, reality returns and reminds us that it was "just a movie." Now, that is how movies are supposed to be.  Mel Gibson has produced a movie that is more frightening for me than any episode of Dark Shadows. It is more moving and more powerful than any movie I have ever seen. I have not seen the movie yet, but I have seen the previews and they scare me to death! Why? Because when I step out into the fresh air afterwards, reality will not comfort me with its’ normal, "It’s just a movie." No, on the contrary, reality will hit me square in the face and remind me that this story is REAL!   

The cruelties, the injustices, the love, the hate, the struggle, death and resurrection actually happened. Not only will I have to face the fact that these things happened; I will also have to accept my role in this story.
This time I am not a mere bystander. I am as much a part of this story as any character on the screen. I am the reason these terrible things happened to an innocent man. I am the reason that Jesus was beaten, spit
upon, and mocked. I am the reason that he suffered and died on the cross. ME! He suffered and died for me!

Entertainment, not hardly. This movie is a look into a reality that few of us have ever dared to take. It is not the purified version of Christ on the cross with a few well-placed trickles of blood running down his face. It is not the modern civilized version of what a scourging and crucifixion looks like. It is the raw, uncensored look at what Jesus experienced. It is cruel, harsh, powerful, dramatic, and moving. Can I handle the truth? Can I really see for the first time what my sin cost the Son of God? Can I live with myself knowing His blood rests on my shoulders, my head? I don’t know. 

I do know this: I am going to see this movie; and when I do, I won’t be able to run. I won’t be able to hide from the truth. I won’t be able to yell at the screen. All I can do is sit there and watch as an innocent man suffers and dies for me. Frankly, the thought scares me to death!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Are You a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

Don't you just love the movie The Wizard of OZ? I was so excited to know that it was being shown again. I was taught many life lessons huddled behind my pillow as I watched Dorothy trying to find her way home. I learned that the right shoes really make a difference, that strangers become friends through adversity, and that the answers to our struggles are always closer than we think.
I also learned the value of having someone watch over me; a good witch or fairy godmother, if you will. Someone who would appear whenever I needed her, wave her magic wand and make all of my troubles disappear.  She would have all the answers, believe in me, and want only the best for me. But good witches and fairy godmothers don't exist in the real world do they?  Perhaps they do.
Have you ever reached down and given a hand to someone who is struggling?  Have you ever shared life experience with someone younger, or taken an interest in someone who shares your dreams but is just embarking upon their journey?  Have you ever done a good deed just because it was the right thing to do?  If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you my friend are a fairy godmother, a good witch, a mentor.

In this world we may call you by a different name, but the impact of your selfless deeds are still the same.  You have given of yourself to improve the life of another.  By your actions you have made the world a better place just by sharing what you had no matter how small or insignificant this act might have seemed at the time.  No matter who we are or where we have come from, we all have something to offer.  It may be as simple as an encouraging word or a smile or as complex as the answer to an overwhelming problem.
In the movie Glenda, the good witch, appeared as Dorothy stood crying and struggling to reach the balloon basket that had just left without her.  Dorothy believed that she had missed her only opportunity to go home. She was crying because she had struggled for so long, worked so hard, and now all of her hard work seemed to be floating away in a balloon. However, Glenda was not upset. You see, Glenda knew that Dorothy did not need to kill the witch or take the broom in order to go home. She knew that Dorothy did not need to make that long difficult journey to Oz dragging three strange companions and a dog along with her. She also knew that Dorothy had always had the power to go home. So why didn't she just tell her that and save us all a lot of trouble? It was not enough for Glenda to know it; Dorothy had to know it, too.
That is what being a mentor is all about…encouraging others to reach for their dreams…knowing when to step in or when to allow us to struggle through the problem… understanding that some things must be learned by experience and cannot be told…believing in us, wiping away our tears, and loving us even when we are unlovable…helping us see the potential that lies inside of all of us and caring enough to take to time to do it.

When Dorothy finally clicked her heels and went home, she was not the same person who dropped a house on a witch. She appreciated what she had all along and also understood the power of believing in herself. She realized that no matter how many storms she endured, enemies she defeated, or challenges she might face, it was the people she loved that were most important.  She also realized the value of a friend and mentor.  She was forever changed by the lessons that Glenda taught her during her journey.
 I must confess that I too have been very blessed with a good witch, a mentor.  Her name is Marcia Oden, and she has done more for me than I could possibly put down on paper.  She has given me the courage to make my journey over the rainbow and pursue my dreams.  I am grateful for her encouragement.
Dorothy and I would like to thank all of you good witches out there. Without you our dreams would still be waiting.  We would still be standing on the farm gazing at the sky wondering what was over the rainbow.  Your love and encouragement makes our journey possible.
May we not only be inspired to follow our dreams, but may we strive to mentors as well.  Then the next time that we drop a house on someone and a woman comes to us and says, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”  We can proudly answer, “I’m a good witch, I’m a mentor!