I had the opportunity to attend the Sundance Film Festival last January with my dear friend, Lizzy – and it was amazing, to say the least. Though our eyes were beginning to pop out of their sockets by the end of the week, in total we watched 12 films, got to meet and listen to several of the producers, directors and actors, all while obtaining credit for a seminary class. Though I’m a film of indie films in general, Sundance 2010 seemed to portray an even darker image, dealing with raw, real-life issues. Whether that year’s crews meant the films to be portrayed in such a light, I couldn’t help but still see light in the midst of darkness. There was an overall feeling that though things were hard all around the characters in the film and by their surroundings, that Beauty could still be found. Beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places – but the question is, are we willing to see past the ugliness in order that Beauty might be seen?

I capitalize Beauty, because to me, Beauty is Hope – and Hope, another capitalized word that might make one wonder as to its capitalization – is Christ. In the midst of darkness and pain, ugliness and grime, Beauty can be found. It’s the flower growing in the alleyway. The sun peeking through the clouds for the first time in months. That tingling feeling of love when you just don’t think you can risk your heart anymore. That’s Hope, and the knowledge and feeling and mystery of it all that there’s something more, and Someone more that we can trust in when darkness seems to encapsulate our souls. I desire Beauty, and I desire Hope. Might my eyes be awakened to seeing its Truth.

Superman & Strawberry Shortcake

My favorite superhero hasn’t always classified as a superhero – although I’m not sure why not.  I mean, she has bright red hair, she smells like strawberries, and everybody likes her, and well, I for one have a cape bearing her superhero emblem.  Strawberry Shortcake is her name, and indeed, when I was a wee little lass, I was slightly obsessed with the fragrant little friend, alongside my little brother, Brandon, who was borderline insane about Superman.  Naturally, at ages 3 and 5, our mom decided to make us capes.  And instantaneously we became superheroes.  It was awesome.  Here we were, in Tillamook, OR, and because it rained like 569 days out of the year, we’d run around our house, up and down the stairs and up and over the couches and the dining room table, and on super secret missions into our little sister’s room (while she was sleeping, of course…), and we were the best superheroes you ever did see.

The story goes that one day Brandon and I decided to do what superheroes to best: fly.  That’s right, we decided that there was no better a place to put our flying skills to the test than down the stairs that were right smack in the middle of the house.  So, being the gracious older sister that I was, I decided to let my 3 year old brother go first.  “Are you weady, Bwandon?  Are you weady to fwyyyyyyy?  1…..2…..3…..” and Brandon took a flying dive off the top of the stairs, all to “fly” about 1 ½ feet, and then start not flying, but thumping – thump, thump, thump… – down to the bottom.

Meanwhile, my parents were sitting in the living room, letting kids be kids, probably watching MASH or The Cosby Show or Family Ties – but they heard the sound.  And it was like a slow-motion Olympic sprinting movie started to replay in our house: Dad jumped up to the couch and – whoosh, whoosh, whoosh…- landed right in front of the bottom step, hands cradled out in front of him, scooping “Superman” up in his arms, holding his son close.

The parallel remains: Jesus yearns and longs to scoop us up in his arms as well, holding us close.  I told this story to some middle school friends at camp this morning, and then asked them where in their lives they need the Father to love them deeply.  Where are you hurting and broken?  What part of your life do you need the presence of the Gift?  Oh, how He loves us so….oh, how he LOVES.  He yearns and longs to scoop you up in his arms and hold you close.