Learning to fly

May 28, 2006

First FlightI took my daughter to see "Over the Hedge" yesterday.

It was a really cute movie, I thought, and had lots of really great lessons as most kids movies do.

But what really grabbed me was the short film that opened the movie.  It is called "First Flight."

It is so human.  The stage is set with a very uptight, hurried, middle-aged man late for work, trying to catch the bus.  His comb-over hair-do is giving him lots of problems, and his pens in his pocket-protector just won't stay straight.  He has lots of papers and post-it notes in his briefcase, and everything has to be arranged just-so.  He gets to his bus stop and waits for the bus.

His face is worn, drained from the stress of daily life, pained from too many years of trying to get to this bus stop on time, keeping his hair just-so, and his pens just-right.  What struck me about him at this point in the film is how many of us go through life just like this– never knowing anything different.  Marching to the same bus stop every day, following the same routine, doing the same thing, following the same tradition, just because.  We get worn down just from living not because we intend to, but just because we forget to keep trying to do anything different to feed our souls, our spirits.

So anyway- next he goes through a few unfortunate events with his pens, resulting in an inkblot on his shirt, and finally gets settled on the bench waiting for the bus.  But then he gets a surprise.  A baby bird drops out of the tree and lands on the bench next to him.  He tries desparately to ignore this bird– afraid of it even, but the bird will have none of it.

Long story short, he ends up loosening up, working with the bird to try and teach it to fly, and then the bus comes.  The audience is left in suspense as we think he has left the poor bird, but of course the bus pulls away revealing the man standing behind the bus to continue working with the bird– and then he really gets into it.  He puts his comb-over up into a tuff, post-it notes all over his body, and looks pretty much like a bird himself so that he can teach this bird to fly.  He neglects his tradition and daily routine so that he can build this relationship with this bird.

I thought this was just such a powerful statement on the state of affairs in our own lives.  Not only the obvious connection to the church– we obviously have a choice to make between getting on the bus our reaching out to those who need assistance in learning to fly in our religious institutions– but also in our daily lives.  How often do we make decisions to just go on with our daily routines, oblivious to the world around us?  For me it is so important to stay fully awake.  To fully absorb the wonder and texture of this world.  I've been the guy with the comb-over and the perfect pens.  That stability has its time in our lives.  But to stay there to the point where our faces are pained, drained of energy, and we are afraid of embracing the new relationships that the world has to offer is not healthy for us.  To give us new energy we must be willing to fly.  To teach others to fly.  To fly together.  Even when we don't look much like those we are flying with.  After all, it isn't really about seeing how many times we can get on the bus– its really about flying together and soaring through the skies.

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