And a little child shall lead us.

Last year I saw about seven different movies in the theater. Two I loved: Pride and Prejudice, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. One I liked a lot: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. One was silly and fun: Bride and Prejudice. And two were disappointments: Revenge of the Sith and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I’m no movie critic. I judge movies on how I feel when I am done watching them. With that criteria, my favorite movie of 2005 was Millions.

When we saw Millions back in the spring, I was blown away. After I found the words to talk about it, I told everyone I knew to go and see it. Since we got the DVD, I’ve seen it several more times, and my love for it increases with each viewing. One of our classes at the Wednesday night service at church was a movie discussion class, and Mike led a session on Millions. We wrote questions about poverty, about faith, about parenting. I couldn’t go to the session because it was right after I had my wisdom teeth out, but Mike reported that most of our friends didn’t like the interplay of fantasy and realism, and they didn’t like the ending. That was hard for me, because when someone rejects something I like that much, I feel like they are rejecting me. I watched it again, and I still feel the same way about it. This is exactly the kind of movie I am thinking of when I say that, if a movie is sweet and does everything right throughout, I don’t mind so much if the ending isn’t completely realistic. That’s not to say there aren’t some inconsistencies, but I think the story triumphs over them (or in spite of them).

Yesterday afternoon I was thinking about why I like it, and I realized that Damian represents what I would want for myself. He believes in miracles. He knows that he can make a difference. He listens, and he knows that someone is listening to him. A lot of it is his age – in an interview with Looking Closer, Danny Boyle said that it was important that Damian be eight years old, because by the time that kids are ten, they become more like Anthony, thinking more like adults. I love how Damian is paying attention the whole movie, and that in the end he does get to make a difference.

One of my favorite scenes (it’s hard to pick just one) is when Damian is talking to St. Peter, and St. Peter tells him the story behind the loaves and fishes. He says that Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes and passed them down the row, and each person, shamed by the generosity of the little boy, took out his or her own food and started sharing. When the plate got back to Jesus, he was like, “Hey, what happened,” and Peter said, “Miracle!” But, as he tells Damian, “Now I see it was a miracle, one of his best. That little boy stepped up, and everyone around him just got bigger.” Of course, I don’t believe it happened like that, but that’s not really the point. The point is that the little boy made a difference just by doing what was right, what came naturally to him. And he changed everyone around him, just as Damian was able to do for the people in his life. By the end of the movie, there’s even hope for Anthony, who seems a hopeless cynic at the age of 10.

I don’t think a whole lot about being childlike, because it’s so easy to confuse it with being childish. But, watching this movie, I feel like I get a real tangible idea of what being childlike is all about. It’s about being like Damian, about being like the boy from St. Peter’s story. About stepping up and making the people around you bigger, even when you see things and other people can’t see them. It’s about being open to miracles in your life, about not explaining them away. Damian makes me want to do those things, to keep as much wonder about the world as I can. If the question is, “Can I still do good with it?” whether we are speaking about money or time or circumstances that seem broken beyond repair, the answer is always, “Yes.”

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One Comment

  1. That last paragraph reminds me so much of Madeleine 😀

    Posted 1/14/2006 at | Permalink

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