December 27, 2007

Peter Pan!



Starting in 1904 in England, everyone would wake up on this day and say "Peter Pan. We get to go see Peter Pan today!" The tradition of the play went on for years.

That's why Peter Pan movies periodically come out in December. The movie "Finding Neverland" came out for the 100th year anniversary in 2004.

I've been a Peter Pan fan for over a decade now. There's a message there that was a part of my pursuit that eventually led to the experiencing of God in a deep way.

I started with recognizing things missing in my life. I had become so rational, so "adultish". I wanted to regain my sense of wonder. So I started down a path of pursuing what it meant to be childlike.

My favorite Peter Pan movie is Spielberg's 1991 "Hook". The setting is Christmas, so he knew of the tradition of Peter Pan at Christmas time when families are gathered together seeking entertainment.

It's an "adultish" Peter in the movie. Grandma Wendy invited the family to England. Peter is forever on his cell phone. His wife is frustrated. His kids are enamoured with Wendy and the nursery window and are full of anticipation.

Grandma Wendy finally has to get in Peter's face and ask, "What do you remember of your story Peter?" Peter had forgotten his story. He didn't know who he was!

The rest of the story, since Captain Hook stole away his children, has Peter relearning how to be childlike to win back the hearts of his children. He had to relearn how to play, how to fly!

That too was my quest. Who was I really?

Watch the movie "Hook".

Watch "Finding Neverland" (with Johnny Depp!). It is so close to the real JM Barrie story in that it tells us why he wrote Peter Pan. Barrie wrote many stories inspired by his mother's Scottish highland tales. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Barrie saying, "I am a capable artist; but it begins to look to me as if you are a man of genius. Take care of yourself for my sake. It's a devilish hard thing for a man who writes so many novels as I do, that I should get so few to read. And I can read yours, and I love them."

In the movie you meet the family of boys who inspired the lost boys (the movie shows these boys' father as already dead, though in real life, Barrie nursed him through his illness.) When the Davies boys met Barrie, they said they'd found a childlike adult in the midst of stodgy Victorian England.

There's a line in the book that's central to Barrie's vision. Over the years his vision had been watered down, thinking it too dark for families. It's - "To die will be an awfully big adventure." This line is the heart of the story (as too in many stories, including the Gospel).

It's a looking for something good out of something tragic. Tolkein calls this 'eucatastrophy' - a victory of good over evil, but with a price to be paid - a redemptive sacrifice. So when faced with the possibility of drowning in Mermaid's Lagoon, Peter is going to make it an adventure.

Hmmm ... "to die will be an adventure"... Doesn't Jesus ask me to come to him as a child? and to die to self? and that in dying there's true life/living?!

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