This is a guest post by Raven Haymond, my dear wife.
This life, we are taught, is all about choices. Ultimately, this existence can be framed by the choices made in three gardens. It almost reads like a fairy tale.
Once upon a time, there was a garden, blooming with all the beauty this world could hold. In this garden lived a prince and a princess who spent their days in the light of the sun, in the shade of the tree, and in the company of Gods. One day, a jealous serpent whispered into the princess’s ear, hissing truths encased in mischief. After listening to the serpent’s words, and after considering the beauty of her present life, the princess made the choice to disobey one of the rules of life in this garden and eat the fruit that would cause her and her children to know the bad with the good, the sorrow with the joy, the toil with the happiness. When her prince found out what she had done, he, too, ate that heavy fruit, for he knew that a life without her was not really a life at all. When their choice was found out, the prince and the princess were cast out of their beautiful garden, into a world of isolation and strife. However, this choice to leave perfect beauty allowed them to know the miracles of family, faith, and repentance.
Many many years pass until, one day, a babe is born. This child has been sent by the One who cast the prince and princess out of their kingdom of peace. You see, this child is their Hero. He lives his life teaching people around Him how to choose the good over the evil, how to spread the gift of love that He offers. One night, in a garden, this Hero makes the choice to perform the ultimate sacrifice. He offers up His perfect life and allows Himself to be wracked by the deepest of pain, grief, and sorrow, by all of the heaviness of this world. The Hero does this because He knows that it is the only way the prince and the princess and all of their family can have their happily ever afters. Days later, he faces death at the hands of those He has just saved. By whip and nail, He is slain and raised upon a cross.
And now, let us turn to the last page of our tale. Three days after His cruel death, this Hero chooses to rise again and show Himself to a worthy princess, in a garden in the spring. He has made it possible for every heir to the kingdom to live again, to once again know perfect beauty.
Any student of literature can tell you that the stories we create trace their lines back to certain universal themes. We call these archetypes. We craft tales that speak of journeys and heroes, death and rebirth. From Odysseus and his cyclops to Alice and her Cheshire Cat, we read, write, and experience stories in order to reinforce certain themes in human thought. A prisoner in this life marked with a number on my skin, who am I? How do I find my way home, through all of the obstacles that line my yellow brick road? How am I to treat the other people, no matter how small, that walk this path with me? We turn to these stories to show us how we can be redeemed from our shackles and be a force for good in this world. How we can surprise ourselves with our own bravery and strength and drown out the evil around us. How we can recognize the divinity in each person that journeys with us.
Disney knows archetypes. Their films are brimming with the big themes—choice, accountability, heroes, villains, bravery, and triumph. Though surrounded by the cloudy issues of profits and business, Disney must be acknowledged as one of the most powerful bards in current culture.
So, what does this bard sing to us? Disney’s latest offering, Frozen, has received a lot of attention. Most people are drawn to this film by its catchy songs and story of sacrifice. Some, however, have chosen to imprint ugly words all over this tale. Words like “hidden agenda,” “immoral,” “indoctrination,” and “false doctrine.” They warn all good parents to stay away from such filth and turn their children’s heads away from the subliminal messages being pelted at them. Since this life is all about choices, writers of such thoughts do have that choice. They can choose to watch this film and see black sin oozing from its pages.
However, I, for one, do not see it that way. Let me tell you what I do see.
I see a child who realizes that she is powerful.
And she ponders the fruit in her hands.
I see a child who crumbles under the weight of the realization that power can sometimes hurt those she loves.
For she knows that though her power can create beauty, it can also create pain.
I see a child who struggles to make the right choices.
Day to day, minute by minute.
I see a child who chooses to lock herself away rather than risk hurting another person.
For she sees no other way.
I see a child who, even though she tries and tries and tries, experiences a moment where she cannot control this power.
And in that moment, it is all just too much.
I see a child who runs, who breaks away from her self-imposed prison sentence.
Her mind coursing between right and wrong, destiny and tragedy, truth and falsehood.
And I am that child.
I see her sister.
A sister that begs to be let in, to share her sister’s solitary burdens.
An offering of grace.
A sister that sees the darkness in the power, but chooses to have faith in the beauty of the heart.
A gift of forgiveness.
A sister that climbs the tallest tower to prove her love.
A whisper of hope.
I see a child who decides that the only way to save, to truly love, is to sacrifice herself.
For her sight has been darkened, and she does not remember who she is.
I see a sister who dies by the blow of a cruel sword because she knows the truth.
That in order to save, she must die.
I see two hearts united as the ice of all that is dark, in the world and in the whispered hisses in our ears, is shattered by the conquering power of love.
And they rise together, to light and to love and to joy.
And I am redeemed.
That is what I choose to see. Is there evil in this world? Yes. Are there plots in motion to capture our hearts and our minds and lead us blindly into eternal chains? Yes. Is Frozen a tool in the arsenal of the ultimate villain, the one who would claim us for his own. No. I don’t think it is.
In this case, I choose to see the echoes of the fairy tale that started so very long ago. In a garden.