I’ve been resting which means a lot of book reading, couch snoozing and movie watching. One of the movies I could watch over and over again is Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Every time I watch this movie, I learn something new or hear another little nugget of truth. This time I watched the movie I heard loud and clear Mr. Magorium’s outlook on waiting.
In a clock shop Molly Mahoney and Mr. Magorium have just finished setting all the clocks to chime at the same time. Mr. Magorium announces that they have 37 seconds left before the chiming begins. And so Mahoney says, “Great. Well done. Now we wait.” To which Mr. Magorium replies, “No. We breathe. We pulse. We regenerate. Our hearts beat. Our minds create. Our souls ingest. 37 seconds well used is a lifetime.”
37 seconds is a lot shorter than the weeks that I feel I have been waiting but the principle is the same. We should never accept waiting as just something to get through. Waiting is part of life and when we live, we breathe, we pulse and we regenerate. Our hearts continue beating, our minds are capable of creating and our souls are active. Waiting is an action. Thanks for the reminder Mr. Magorium.
I’m generally feeling better but I am not my normal self. Mono definitely takes it out of you. I went out to keep an appointment yesterday and even though I didn’t drive and was only out of the car for maybe 20 minutes, I came home and went to bed around 8 and slept for 12 hours. I was exhausted. So lounging around trying to find something I can watch and doze to isn’t an uncommon activity at this point. Earlier this week I was doing just that and I came across the movie Avatar. This reminded me of Aboriginals. Yes there is a connection, I promise. Just read on.
The Aboriginal people are sometimes referred to as invisible, just like any people group that exists but is generally ignored, not even noticed by the greater population around them. Bill Bryson says it this way, “I just sat for some minutes and watched these poor disconnected people shuffle past. Then I did what most white Australians do. I read my newspaper and drank my coffee and didn’t see them anymore.”
A week or so ago, I was eating dinner with friends and was telling them about the Aboriginals being invisible. I was lamenting that there is no easy solution, no bandaid to this greater problem. The wife of the family then reminded me that sometimes it can start simply. In Na’vi, the language created for the movie Avatar, a typical greeting is “I see you”. Just greeting people and having them be seen is a big step in the right direction. “Hello” is not enough at this point but “I see you” is extremely powerful.
Just like anything else, this is easier said than done. And once my, your, our eyes are open and actually see invisible people, we open ourselves up to more pain, more heartache and more hopelessness. But there is hope and there is an end to the pain. Unlike the governments solution to just throw more money at the problem. Unlike the general populations response to just ignore and wish the people away. Christ is different. He sees us and through his power allows us to see others.
The solution is to believe in Christ and get to know him better. This is not just a bandaid, it is the eternal solution. Ephesians 1:18 says “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” My prayer is that the eyes of my heart would be opened and in knowing Christ better, my capacity to love and see the Aboriginal people would grow as well. That once I am on the ground in Perth, I will be able to look at people and honestly say “I see you”.
Do you like stories? This is a story within a story. An Aboriginal story told from one generation to the other in order to teach a lesson. The young man is called out to examine his actions, look back at the past and see how it can apply to his life today. The story includes, the dangers of adultery, the bonds of family, the power of suggestion, sorcery’s grip and the benefits of following tribal law.
Although we might not be able to relate to all of these realities, they play a significant role in Ten Canoes. This movie gives insight into cultural history, worldview and humanity. It’s more than just a good story.
An Afrikaner veteran of the Boer War has just immigrated to New Zealand and is hired to track a man accused of killing a soldier. While hunting through the countryside he captures his fugitive, only to learn that he’s innocent of the crime. When faced with the life changing decision to turn him in or set him free only one man will walk away alive. –Movie Summary from IMDB.
This movie may not be set in Australia but it illustrates some of the struggles that do exist between the white and the native population. It may not be exactly the same as the situation in Australia but the similarities are enough to draw some interesting parallels and correlations. Although parts of it were hard to watch, I am thankful for another piece of the puzzle to help me see the history of New Zealand more clearly. Understanding the history helps to make sense of the current social climate and also gives us insight in how to move forward. Tracker is an interesting historical journey but it ends with hope. And hope is a very good thing.
So let me begin this by making a request for some more uplifting Australian stories. Movie or book recommendations are welcome but let’s try for a few that can’t be put in the depressing or sad category. And I feel a bit conflicted in making that request because although I do tend to enjoy more positive, feel good stories, I realize that we live in a world that isn’t always cheerful. We can’t always look through rose-colored glasses. There is pain and there is suffering. And our own lives, as well as the countries that we live in all have a mixed past. There are terrible stories of injustices and beautiful stories of triumph but in the end they weave together to create the foundation on which we build our lives.
With that said here are the culprits that are causing me to make the request for more uplifting viewing and reading material:
1. The Rabbit Proof Fence. This movie is about the stolen generation of aboriginal children, specifically how a couple little girls are taken away from their families multiple times but continue to escape and make the long journey home. I watched this movie back in August and although it made me cry, I was cheering for the girls to make it home to stay.
2. The Thorn Birds. This book talks about how hard life in the Australian outback actually can be. Australia’s climate is harsh and unforgiving in many ways. The family written about in this book experience a life with very little except for heartache.
3. A Cry in the Dark. I probably should not have watched this movie alone but it is the story of the family whose daughter was taken away and killed by a dingo. The mother was accused of murder and was convicted, spending time in jail before she was eventually pardoned. She and her husband fought for about 8 years to get themselves cleared of all charges by the courts. However, the reversal of the earlier conviction could not erase the years of damage.
Australia has a history that pulls on your heart strings. I do not enjoy reading about it or watching the movies that tell the sad stories but I realize that these stories are going to help me to understand the people and culture better. It’s not the place where I want to stay but it is a place to begin.
So I’ve been back from Australia for a couple of days now and have a couple good night sleeps under my belt. But for whatever reason, tonight is different. Although I am desperately tired, my mind is refusing to sleep. Therefore, I will use this time wisely to tell you a little story and pass along a movie recommendation at the same time.
So I am not claiming in any way that this is the best movie to illustrate the situation in Australia based on their history but it will definitely give you some ideas. And it was recommended to me by the Aboriginal family I was staying with out in the country outside of Perth. Here’s how it happened from the beginning:
I was picked up in the late afternoon and then given a tour of the small town. The cemetery, the reserve where the mother had lived while she was a child, the streets where the most Nyungah people currently lived, etc. And just as we were getting to the church, we slowed down to say hi to an uncle who was enjoying the evening on his porch. Of course we got out to chat with him but by then the young boy from the family was getting hungry. So I was left to story with Uncle. I heard all sorts of stories about the first Christians in the area and the families and many other interesting threads of conversation, like sugar consumption in Australia. Eventually mother and son came back and the conversation continued aided by meat pies and coca cola. Anyway, after we were all sufficiently talked out and bitten up by mosquitoes, we said our goodbyes and made our way back to the house. Once we arrived I settled into the boy’s room because he was giving up his bed for me. But it needed a bit of tidying up (mother’s request, not mine) so I sat on the bed while he showed me all his video games and movies that he enjoyed. He eventually pulled out Australia and I was told that this would be a good movie for me to see and get some idea of the sense of history and story. I figured it wouldn’t hurt and it would just add to the picture that was building with other movies like The Rabbit-Proof Fence. So I took my cup of tea and we all sat on the bed to watch the movie. Eventually they headed off to sleep in the other room and I was left to finish the movie on my own. Although it was made to be entertaining, it was also enlightening The aboriginal people are often compared to the native Americans in the US. And while the histories both have their commonalities, they are also very different. So if you are in the mood for an entertaining film with a little Aussie education, then go ahead, set aside a couple of hours and enjoy Australia.
The word gypsy brings up many connotations. Musician, traveler and thief just to name a few. More often than not the term is negative but there is so much more to learn and know about them. For me the first thing that comes to mind is the music. Music with rhythm that comes straight from the heart. Even though I only spent a day in a Roma village in Slovakia, I was swept away by the music. Just simple voices, beautiful voices, singing together.
The film Gypsy Caravan is described as “A dazzling display of the musical world of the Roma, juxtaposed to the real world they live in. This rich feature documentary celebrates the luscious music of top international Gypsy performers and interweaves stirring real life tales of their home life and social background.” And it doesn’t disappoint. There is even a brief appearance by Johnny Depp who crossed paths with some of these amazing musicians during one of his films.
This documentary was first named after a Romani proverb. “You cannot walk straight when the road bends.” This proverb makes me smile and helps me feel a certain affinity for the Roma people.