Jan. 1, 2019

Beauty from Ashes

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.” John 15:13

In 1963, Alfred Hitchcock produced a movie entitled, “The Birds.” Some of my best memories stem from watching, “The Birds,” with my grandmother. Both of us were scared, but it was a fun kind of scared. Weird, huh?

This was before the rating system was assigned to movies and TV shows. My grandmother had never seen the movie, so she really didn’t know whether it was appropriate for me. But I crawled up in her lap and we watched, “The Birds” together. A few years ago, during my visit to San Francisco, Tommy and I drove to Bodega Bay where the movie was filmed. The boat launch used in the movie still stands (pictured). It was a neat experience for me to see the spot where the first bird attack took place in the movie. It reminded me of sitting in my grandmother’s lap. Yea, I’m weird like that.

Another bird movie was recently released through Netflix. It is entitled, “Bird Box.” Once again, a movie with birds as costars brought me just the right amount of fright. It wasn’t gory or over-the-top horror. It was just enough of a thrill to feel every emotion possible within a two-hour movie. Besides, I enjoy finding the spiritual message in everything I see, read, or watch. Yea, I’m weird like that.

In the original bird movie, my grandmother explained it by saying that nature was angry at the way mankind has misused it, so the birds attacked. I don’t know if that is the real reason behind Tippi Hedren’s bad experience, but it made sense to me. In the original bird movie, birds were the enemy. In “Bird Box,” birds are allies. What can we learn from the latest installment of bird terror?

The main character was introduced in the show as a detached, unhappy, single pregnant woman. She was painting a picture with a backdrop of solid black and gray. Except for a few people gathered together, there wasn’t much emotion relayed through the painting. None of the people in her masterpiece were really looking at one another. What seemed an exact likeness of her in the center of the picture had little facial details. The focal point of the painting was blank, numb. When I first read the premise of the movie, I must admit I thought, “How dumb. Why would anyone put blindfolds on kids and row down a river?” If that’s all we see when we watch “Bird Box,” the movie will be more frightening than enlightening. However, think about it. The story behind “Bird Box” is one of a transformation occurring right before our eyes. The main character goes from not really wanting her baby and feeling totally detached to caring for two young children with great passion. By the end of the movie, both children became her beloved children.

The unseen entity in the script triggered one’s greatest fears, deepest saddest, or horrendous pain. We have the same unseen entities moving around in our world. We just don’t make shapes out of them. All of us experience fear. All of us experience deep sadness. Most of us have experienced some amount of pain be it emotional or physical. There are things in life that we choose not to look at or go to great lengths to avoid in fear that life’s evil will overcome us.

As in the movie, some simply cannot escape the “bad things.” At times, those fears arrive on our doorstep or sneak their way into our lives. Evil can take on many shapes, sizes, and appearances. Evil can mask itself with familiar voices. Evil can appear to be safe, familiar, or acceptable.  Evil can attack through a computer monitor. Evil can look like us.

Every human being understands that when we come face to face with evil, there are those designated to face the evil head on, stare it down, protect others, and accept the consequences of their choice to lend a helping hand to their fellow man. It was no surprised the biggest hero in the movie was once a soldier. Who else in our world stares evil in the face and is willing to do what it takes to protect others? (Spoken best by a military mom, right?)

The movie was reminiscent of what is both good and bad about life. The father and mother who stepped outside into the chaos to save their children. The character who believed anger, territorialism, and a gun were the answer for everything. The character least respected and the most afraid in the beginning sacrificed himself to save others. We saw humility, love, and unselfishness in play. We also saw the ultimate in selfishness that robbed others from any hope of a promising future. Betrayal hurts some and angers others.

The main character in the show ran full circle despite the horror around her. From darkness and detachment to beauty, love, and community. If we can get through the scary parts of the movie, the message and lessons are worth the experience. There is more to the movie – so much more. I simply do not have the space and time needed to relay all its messages. I’ve watched it four times. Yea, I’m weird like that.