Making Stubborn Sparks

I’ve been thinking about hope a lot lately – partially because of Christmas and partially because of Star Wars. And also, because of a comment a friend made while we discussed Star Wars (before opening night) – when I asked his feelings in regard to The Last Jedi, his response stuck in my head: “I am doggedly hopeful.”

Doggedly hopeful.

In the week leading up to Star Wars, I heard “hope” discussed by my pastor at church, the radio DJ, and my friend (regarding the movie). And then we saw Star Wars – among the other themes of the movie, one constant undercurrent was dogged hopefulness…the unwillingness of Rey to abandon any of the people who seemed hopeless resounded in me (and my apologies for any spoilers).

As I mentally chewed on the movie (as I often do with movies – the curse/blessing of being a writer), I remembered my friend’s comment. Ever the wordsmith, I turned to my thesaurus to do some study on both “dogged” and “hope.”

Hope (noun): belief, ambition, anticipation, desire, confidence, faith, optimism, promise, reliance
Hope (verb): anticipate, believe, cherish, expect, aspire, await, foresee, pray, rely, trust, hang in, have faith
Dogged (verb): persistent, determined, relentless, resolute, steadfast, stubborn, tenacious, firm, steady, obstinate

When I looked over the words listed in the thesaurus, I only saw “wish” once. But the other words (anticipation, confidence, reliance, belief)seemed to drown out that one. Hope is not about blind wishing – it’s far more powerful than that. Hope is a well of strength.

In one of the last scenes in Star Wars, Cameron Poe galvanizes the diminished band of Resistant fighters to not give up: “we are the spark <of hope> that will light the fire that will burn down the Fire Order.”

At that point, they didn’t need a blazing bonfire…they just needed a spark. They needed to be reminded that they still had strength. They needed the reminder of hope.

Especially during this season of my life, when the things I want to be happening don’t seem to be happening, I have needed to be doggedly hopeful. I have needed to staunchly persist in my belief that God will fulfill His promise. Like the fighters, I have needed to know that the end is not the end.

My advice? The end is not the end. Just think of that kitten on the wire and hang in there.

Movie Discussion – “The Man Who Invented Christmas”

This is something a bit different for me as it doesn’t generally cross my mind to discuss/review movies on my blog. I have opinions, of course, but I have previously viewed what I post here to lean more literary than pop culture. But change is good sometimes, right? And there are certainly spoilers ahead.

Jumping right in: “The Man Who Invented Christmas” is the story of the writing of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – from the initial inception of the story to the creation of the title character and everything that goes with him. Dickens financed the publication of his book since his publishers didn’t believe they could have the book available in less than 6 weeks for purchase by Christmas.

What enthralled me about this movie had less to do with the story and more to do with the portrayal of Dickens’ process in writing¬†A Christmas Carol. As a creative writer, I have similar process; and my characters are not names on a page, but real people with real personalities and voices. Watching Dickens become wrapped up in his work was almost like watching myself on a movie screen. I understood his exuberance at finally naming Scrooge, and then smiled as he turned and saw the manifestation of his character. These were all experiences with which I could completely relate.

And then Dickens’ father came into the story, and again, I could relate. I know what it’s like to be so utterly disappointed/abandoned/betrayed by one of two people in the world who should never be the source of abandonment or betrayal – parents. In the movie, the father is a thorn in the writer’s side, a constant irritation and festering wound that had never fully healed. I hurt for the character (Dickens) and support his icy attitude towards his father/parents. As a writer (and knowing the plot of¬†A Christmas Carol), I knew that there would have to be resolution to the rift between father and son. But I didn’t want Dickens to have to apologize, but rather the father come to his senses and beg his son’s forgiveness for the lifetime of hardship and betrayal. And yet, that’s not how it happened. I will stop now before giving away too much of the movie, but the happy ending happens because of Dickens’ change of heart. He redeems his wretched book character even as he redeems himself.

I knew that my issue with the father character had to do with my still unresolved hurt with my own father. After a few days of mentally chewing on the movie, I finally allowed God to show me what I need to see: there will be people in our lives that we must show mercy to because it is the only way we will be able to deal with them. The mercy isn’t completely for those people, but also for us – because if we hold on to the hurt, it will be a poison that will kill our joy. Mercy isn’t just the best option, but sometimes it’s the only option.

Side Note: There is a comment from one of my writing books that I enjoy quoting, even though I don’t remember the book title or author’s name: A writer has been successful is he/she has made the reader care. Even if the work you read makes you angry, the writer has succeeded if his/her work has caused you to react emotionally.

Well, I certainly reacted emotionally to this movie, producing both positive and negative emotions. And I was still thinking about the movie hours/days after leaving the theater. The story of this movie not only elicited an emotional response, but also caused a fair amount of introspective thinking.

Brett Lot states that all literature (regardless of the medium) should “give the reader back to himself.” And in a way, that is what the script did for me.