Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? Perhaps Christmas is a time to reflect on the life of Jesus and instead of getting and keeping, a better approach may be, “Did you let go of what you needed to this Christmas?” If not for Christmas, then why not let it go for New Years?
I grew up with heroes and villains, good guys and bad guys along with some bad gals as well. Perhaps a better distinction instead of good vs. evil is those who let go and those who don’t. Consider the following villains. The Evil Queen from Snow White, Captain Hook from Peter Pan, The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz; Darth Vader from Star Wars; and Valdemort from Harry Potter. Each villain has a problem with letting go. They grasp, hold tightly, seek to live without ending, to not die, to not lose any of the power or position they have attained. Were they evil? They certainly did evil things. Each was willing to kill potential threats to get or protect what they thought they had to have to live on. Ironically, most of the things the ‘villain’s’ in the stories wanted, their nemeses, the heroes, were willing to give up with no resistance, if they could.
The Evil Queen in Snow White wanted to be the most beautiful person in all the land and to remain as Queen. Snow White would have gladly given her the title and the crown. Neither mattered to her. Captain Hook wanted to have all the treasure in the land (he was a pirate, isn’t that what all pirates want?) and to be young. Peter would have given him all the treasure and Hooks return to childhood if he could. The Wicked Witch in Oz wanted the red slippers which Dorothy would have gladly given her if she could. (I don’t trust that Glenda the Good Witch who put them on her feet in the first place.) Darth Vader was becoming more and more mechanical, a walking, sometimes floating machine. Machines parts were replaceable, human parts of the body died, weakened, and at some point required letting go. Vader got his power, position, and his body from the machine producing Empire. Vader wanted control. The only thing he couldn’t control was his own family, his son or daughter. His son would have given him all the positions and machines that he wanted. Luke didn’t want to rule anything. He was busy getting over an odd attraction for his sister.
Finally there was Harry Potter. Valdemort wanted to not die and would kill any potential threats, even an infant. (In the Bible, Pharaoh in Exodus and Herod in Matthew had a similar tactic.) The contrast was set up early, Valdemort who wouldn’t stay dead, and Harry Potter, ‘the boy who lived’. The difference between the two becomes clearer every time they met. Harry was so alive he was willing to let go of even his own life if he needed to. Valdemort was so dead he was becoming more and more violent in order to not die, which ironically, he does several times.
All these villains, in their pursuit of not dying become less and less alive. The Evil Queen in Snow White takes the form of a witch. The Wicked Witch in Oz becomes more like her flying monkeys. Darth Vader becomes more and more machine and less and less human. And Valdemort starts to lose his humanity, in the movies he loses his facial features and becomes noseless. All these villains exemplify the e.e.cummings quote, “Being not dead is not the same as being alive.”
What the heroes wouldn’t give up was their journey, their growth, their friends, all which the villains lost long before.
Don’t be a villain, learn the lesson form your lungs. Like air, there is an abundance of life. But if you want to grasp it, hold onto it, never let go, then you will do evils you hadn’t imagined possible, strike out at those near to you, and die prematurely or live out your days in a zombie like subconscious. Be like the heores, learn the lesson of your lungs: to live well, inhale, exhale, receive fully and let go completely. As Jesus said, You who want to hold onto your life will lose it. But if you can release your life, you’ll keep it. Matthew 16, Mark 8, Luke 9.
Here are two videos of some of my favorite singers and songwriters in Nashville. Each song is entitled “Let It Go” and comes with a similar challenge even though the formats are quite different.
The first is Travis Meadows. This Southern songwriter consistently amazes.
The second is The McCrary sisters at 3rd and Lindsley. They are a tour de force and drive the point deep into your soul. You’ll be singing “let it go!” through 2014 and resolve to learn to play the tambourine next year. That’s our friend Bob Britt and The Moment guitar player on guitar.