Friday, December 14, 2012

Beauty for Ashes

HUGO- the movie.  I LOVED it! It was deliberate without being draggy, emotional without being overly sentimental, antique and modern all at the same time. There was a message within it that resonated with me, one I want to try to nail down with words.

George was on the cutting edge of cinema creation when this art form was in its infancy in France. He enjoyed the thrill of creating, directing, acting, casting, writing---a stimulating blend of artistry. His movies were celebrated and he was so successful that he was able to construct a glass building in which to build his sets and capture the light perfectly for shooting his films.That glass building epitomized his success.

Alas, along came the great war. The public taste changed. The soldiers who returned home after the war no longer had an interest in the sweet and innocent tales that George portrayed on cinema. People had been sobered, and the popular culture swung in a different direction. George no longer enjoyed the thrill of popularity and his movie making venture crashed to a halt. He tore down his glass building and in a fit of passion burned the films, the props, and sets that had been icons of days gone by.

George became morose, with a bitter edge. He opened a shop in which he tinkered with repairing toys but he was unfulfilled, forgotten, and secretive about his past. His deep loss was a festering wound but he sought to hide it and go on with his life.

Unbeknownst to him, at the heyday of his cinema making career, a young and starry-eyed boy had idolized him from afar, devouring each and every film, visiting the glass house, relishing every new thing that George created. That young man grew up to collect every bit of film and memorabilia he could get his hands on, compiling an astounding collection of George's work and even writing an in-depth book on the subject. George's genius, his passion, and the value of his pioneering artistry-- all of it was fully grasped by this dedicated admirer.

As fate would have it, Hugo---the movie's namesake---was able to bring George and the young protege together. This meeting culminated in a huge, public reminisce in which George was able to share with an adoring audience the slice of history with which he was so intimately acquainted. His movies had come full circle; he enjoyed a revival of interest in his work because in hindsight all could now see clearly that they laid the foundation for an art form that has enjoyed a permanency that no one could have foreseen in the early 20th century.

The kernels of truth here, for me, had application to my own life. The spiritual movement to which I have given my best years enjoyed a heyday in the 1970s and 80s. Even in the 90s there was a residual flush of popularity that remained. But we are in a new time and culture has shifted. The movement is no longer the new, the exciting, the popular. In many ways I could relate to George as he watched his beloved glass movie house being bulldozed. My life pursuits have been less tangible than George's, being spiritual investments in people rather than to an art form. Layers of ashes cloak the glowing ember that has burned brightly so many years.

Oh but wait! There is a young person in the wings, an enthusiastic disciple waiting to take up that ember and light a torch with it and hold it up high. The value of the pursuit is not lost on this individual, indeed he seeks to fan it to flame once again and carry on the work. Oh joy! The last is better than the first because it has gained the perspective of years and the contributions of youth.

As I watched that huge audience cheering for George in his final public presentation, I thought of the great cloud of witnesses that are cheering me on, cheering me home. Be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

~ I Corinthians 15:58 NKJV