Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST: A True Work of Art

I think that LOST will be go down as the most well written television series in history. Some understood why at 10:35 pm last night (a 5 minute moment of silence was observed by most for both mourning and appreciation) and others will come to realize this as time passes and they experience their own awakening. My take on last night’s finale is simply this: perfect and beautiful.

For those who were unsatisfied with last night’s finale (and for those who were), I offer this critical analysis:

Art imitates life.

Art exists as an expression of our daily experiences, the exciting, adventurous experiences as well as the common and mundane. Art is simply a reflection of our daily lives, thoughts and perceptions.

LOST is a work of art. It was a story that captivated a formidable audience for six seasons. Full of mythology, mystery, easter eggs and polar bears, this story struck a chord with people all over the world not because of the aforementioned plot devices, but because of the characters. We fell in love with Claire and Charlie, had a love/hate relationship with Kate, and wondered if Jack would ever get over his Superman complex. We laughed every time Hurley said “dude” and we ladies found Sawyer simply irresistible.

All of these characters were real to us because they carried the same fundamental flaws that you and I do—they were just like us. We saw a piece of ourselves in them. And we wondered if their fate would be telling of our own.

Because art imitates life, we don’t always get the answers we want.

What is the island? Where did the statue come from? Why do pregnant women die before their third term? What is the Dharma Initiative really doing? Who keeps making the food drops? Where did the polar bears come from?

So many questions we hoped to gain answers to, but we didn’t. And I am perfectly content with that. Life rarely affords us answers to the questions that dwell within us. Life doesn’t hand us pretty packaged solutions all tied up in a bow. A good storyteller always leaves questions unanswered. If they didn’t, the audience would be left with nothing to ponder for days, or years, to come. A good story stays with you, spurs you on to think and dream. There is little to think and dream about when one knows all the answers. Which is why I’m glad that LOST, and life, leaves me plenty of mystery.

Life is about people, so a good story is all about the characters.

Damon and Carlton have long proclaimed that LOST is a show about the characters, not the mythology. Sure, the mythology was fascinating! It drew me in; I dreamt up my own theories and searched high and low for the next easter egg or anagram. At the end of the day, however, I cheered for Sun and Jin as their marriage faced joys and trials. I succumbed to tears when I saw Sawyer and Juliet’s final scene in the Season 5 finale. I smiled every time John Locke came on screen. I was drawn to the mythology, but I fell in love with these characters.

At the beginning of Season 6 I stopped theorizing, stopped reading as many blogs, and I just sat back and enjoyed the story for what it was. It was a slow process, but I came to understand that the island was simply the framework and the mythology an ingenious plot device that set the stage for Jack, John, Kate, Sawyer, Jin, Sun, Hurley, and others to shine.

The characters were not dead the whole series, as some have come to assume, but as they did pass on, whether it be on the island, or when they were 80 and in a nursing home, they found themselves drawn to what we know as the Flash Sideways. It was a place where they returned as they were when they met, waiting for everyone to arrive, in their own time, so they could remember the best time of their lives—learning who they really were, and how much they loved each other. Then they moved on. Together.

The End…

LOST was all about finding yourself. Realizing what truly lies inside of you, that you are not tied to what people say that you are, but that you can become all that you want to be—something better, different, greater.

LOST was about finding each other. You can’t do life alone. Community is necessary. Living life with others is the only way to make it through the mountains and valleys that are inevitable.

All that ever mattered was that these characters came to believe in themselves and each other. And they learned to love.

May we also learn the depths of who we are both in crisis and peace, and may we surround ourselves with a community of people different than us, like us, and may we love them fiercely.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Flight Delays, Grace, Athens

Last July I was asked to lead a mission team of college students to Athens, Greece during Spring Break. I gleefully accepted and have spent the last several months praying, preparing, and anticipating this time. And here it is.

The trip here was the second most interesting I've ever had. The first was in Romania but that's another story. All of our flights were delayed. All of them. The best one was the flight from Dulles to Frankfurt--the plane's computer had to be completely replaced and the software rebooted. After two and a half hours on the plane, during which we watched technicians actually tear out the ceiling, we were finally switched to another plane when the software didn't boot. I was thankful to be flying on a plane that had a working computer system. Especially while flying over the ocean.

We made it to Frankfurt, then after much difficulty we finally got boarding passes for our flight to Athens. I sat next to a Greek woman who knew about 8 words in English yet she just kept chatting with me in Greek. She was so friendly and I felt terrible not having a clue what she was saying. I also thought it was kind of ironic...I'm here to help these students connect with and build relationships with Greeks, and here is this precious lady beside me working so hard to connect with me. That made me think about grace, and how Jesus wants to connect with us.

We landed in Athens and even more grace was bestowed upon us as all of our luggage arrived! What a blessing! Lots of people prayed those bags through. We are here and getting ready to hit the ground running. I'm so excited about what's going to happen here next week, and I'm honored to be a part of it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Heartbreak is a curious thing. It is hard to comprehend what is happening while it is happening but when it's all said and done, and you're looking at it from a lifetime away it's easier to piece through the wreckage.

I recently spent an hour and a half on the phone with a girlfriend from college, catching up. Even though I know her and her husband's love story, I've never shared with her my past relationship stories. What started out as a fun recollection of random college dates turned into rehash of one of the most painful experiences of my life. As I recalled the wrongs done, the words said that will never leave my head, the heartbreak that hung like a thunderhead over my senior year...I waited for the wave of pain to crash over me. Even though it's been 8 years, the experience left me such an emotional mess that I didn't date for 5 years after I graduated college.

But the wave didn't come. I shared the story...and felt peace. I have long forgiven those involved, but for the first time I realized I've let go of the pain that I allowed to reside in my heart for so long. As my friend shared some sad news about the other person involved my reaction was not one of "serves them right," (much to my surprise, mind you) but I felt compassion. And it was in that moment that I understood where the ugly words came from, what the motive behind the actions were. Things I couldn't understand then made sense now.

Even though I've always known that what Jesus says about me is Truth, for the first time I believed His words over the lie that was spoken over me 8 years ago.

Nothing cathartic happened, the conversation continued, but I was free. Free from the lie. Free to believe the Truth about who He says I am.

The wreckage is still there, but a new foundation has been laid.

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
Hosea 2:14-15

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Change in Direction

You know those times when you're following what you think the Lord has for you and then one day you wake up and you wonder? You know, really wonder. Wonder at the beauty of the Lord's grace and endless mercy. Wonder at how the rain splashes on the pavement. Wonder at how people love you and want to be your friend and walk this crazy life beside you. Wonder at how you have arrived wherever you are.

I've been in a state of wonder for several months now. Admittedly, some of those days were wondering what on earth God was doing in my life, wondering why He keeps loving a broken mess like me, wondering if I'm ever going to make a difference in this world. But somehow, God always brings my wonderment back to Him, gently reminding me that I'm not the lead actress in the show and that He doesn't need me to win rave reviews.

Thanks to the wonderful community of friends I'm surrounded by, this wonderment as brought me to a decision for this year. It was not an easy process, but it is the right decision. The details are here on my ministry blog. I covet your prayers as I make this transition. I am hoping that in the midst of the rest, the reflecting, the growing, that I will make time for writing, reading and of course, more wonder.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Writing on a Blank Screen

Writing is hard. I've been hearing a lot of writers lately talking about how hard it is to sit down and actually write. It's true. I'm not even a professional and I find it difficult to sit down and stare at this screen and put my thoughts together in a way that will make sense to the general public. And by "general public" I mean the 5 of you that will read this.

This time last year I was staring blankly at a white page on my computer screen about to bring a worship guide to life. International World Changers contacted me about writing the worship guide for 2010. I was the first non-pastor and the first woman to write this Bible study material and I was mortified. George, the head of IWC, looked at me and said, "If you think this job is too big for you and you can't do it, then you're the person for the job." Yikes. Not only was I daunted by the task at hand simply because I was female and not a pastor, but the text I'd been entrusted with was 1 Corinthians 13. The "Love Chapter," arguably the Apostle Paul's most well known text. Hence the blank staring at my computer screen.

I have never labored over something for so long, studied so hard, or prayed so much that I would be true to the task and the text. The writing process was a bear to tackle, but I had no idea what was coming my way when we entered the editing phase. I felt like I was in my AP English class again and my editor was like Mr. Orteza, my 5 foot Filipino English teacher who used red ink freely and always marked where I didn't close off the loop of my cursive d's. Thank goodness we use computers now. (And my editor wasn't nearly as horrifying as Mr. Orteza was when I was 16. She was a wonderful source of wisdom and encouragement and I'm so thankful for her sharp eye and skill!)

I turned in my project in early May after two months of work, and edits lasted through September. Last I heard the cover design was almost done and the completed project was on the way to the publisher. And in a few months I'll be on an World Changers trip and get to hear the worship speaker deliver the messages the Lord wrote through me. Humbling to say the least.

Writing is a beautiful and terrifying thing. It is a powerful medium and a captivating art. I think I'll keep staring at this white screen and see what happens next.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Someone once told me that blogging improves your writing skills. Someone else said that if you're going to blog, don't try to imitate anyone else, just be yourself. I want to be a better writer, and I don't know how to be anyone but myself, so here goes my attempt at a more formal reentry to the blogging community. My hope is simply to have a forum where I can share what I think about current events, faith, the crazy things that always seem to happen to me. I want to know what you think too. I want to grow as a writer, as a listener, as a person, in the faith that I cling to daily. And I want to laugh. A lot. Here's to the journey ahead...