Having a 2-year-old means you’re going to be watching a few kids movies. One of Joshua’s favorites is the movie Madagascar.
Now if you are familiar with this movie you’ll know that one of the ongoing narrative counterpoints that flow through and under the entire story is this side-narrative concerning a group of 4, particularly industrious penguins. Skipper, Kowalski, Ringo, and Private. I particularly enjoy the unflappable character of ‘skipper’.
In the background of the main character’s stories, these four rascals spend the entire first half of the movie in their quest to escape from the zoo and get to Antarctica. They are pengui9ns after all. Now, spoiler alert: to cut a long story short, they make it and this provides one of my favorite scenes in any movie.
There’s no camera movement. There is simply a still shot and you can just make out the penguins in the distance amidst the blizzard of snow. It’s nasty, freezing and uninviting weather because it is of course Antarctica. The only thing that you do see; it think it is Kowalski, does that beak shake that penguins do. There is nothing else. For actually quite some time. A scene where basically nothing happens for several minutes in a kids movie. Then, all of a sudden, ‘Skipper’s’ voice rings out loud and clear over the howl of the blizzard:
“Well, this sucks.”
This reminded me of an article or more accurately an interview that came across my radar recently. It was with legendary actor Jack Nicolson, probably one person that you would imagine got everything that they wanted. Well, at least what pop culture says that you apparently want. For more info click here. Yet I noted that the article was entitled “Jack Nicholson: I am single and lonely and likely to die alone”. Ouch!
Here’s a guy who has/had ‘everything’ and he looks at the twilight of his life and seems to be saying “well this sucks”. There’s a sense in which all of his achievements have actually caused his life to end up being more hollow. bible nerds among us will already nee the corollary with Ecclesiastes. However, the thread that I want to pick up here is not Old Testament but New, to more specific; Christmas.
Judging by the crowds at the local shops last night while I was doing my Christmas shopping, we have turned it into the season of wants. I wonder if that is also why it ends up becoming the season of disappointment. It is not the wants that are the real problem in life for they are echoes of the deeper aches that make us human. The problem is all the things we think are going to solve the cravings.
Mike Erre, mentions that one of the most revolutionary ideas that were introduced to him by his Old Testament professor when he was in college was that one of the greatest mercies God ever showed humanity were the curses as a result of sin in Genesis 3. For if humanity could have found satisfaction in relationships, childbearing or the fruit of our labors…we completely would have and thus never looked for God for our ultimate satisfaction. However, as it is, what does happen is if we find a relationship with Jesus it is usually because having either achieved or been exhausted by the pursuit of meaning, we come to a point where we realize,…well, this sucks.
Christmas doesn’t have to be a disappointment. We keep running into people who ‘got it all’ and simply either end up morbid or complete jerks and yet we don’t seem to get the most basic truth of life: There. Is. No. Achievement or pleasure under the sun that will make you happy. Just the simple acceptance of the fact, however, does make you far more open to explore and to even be surprised by grace.
That little baby born into poverty was also the one who grew up to say: “If you seek to save your life, you’ll lose it, but if you lose it for the sake of the good news, you’ll end up saving it.” (Matt 10:39)
Careful of expectaions.