Musicals…they’re a fascinating phenomena don’t you think…a bit like marmite; you either love them or hate them) because that needed clarifying?!?) I remember watching Mama Mia heavily pregnant with my 5th child (she arrived the next morning I seem to recall) I watched the first 20 minutes and then found myself getting up every time a song started! I’d wash up or make the sandwiches for school or pack the book bags…it didn’t capture me!
Then a few months ago I watched La La Land! Fifteen minutes in I wasn’t convinced but then it drew me in, stole my heart and completely broke me…if you’ve watched it, you’ll know because honestly I did not see that ending coming *sigh*…I was still recovering until I watched The Greatest Showman…
If you’ve not seen it, stop reading this and go watch it!! Honestly…it’s THE MOST UPLIFTING FILM EVER! (Possibly?!)
The story follows a creative dreamer and his pathway to success from the most unlikely of beginnings…the film embraces so much; love, death, status, success, failure, fame, dreams, hopes, risk, nightmare, imagination, temptation, choices, belonging, loss…its an abundance of life – alongside the occasional elephant!!
The story captures so much of what it is to be human, it speaks to the heart, it connects to something deep inside that wants to believe there’s so much more to life than what we currently experience. It challenges the question “who am I to….?” by yelling in response “who are you not to!”*
It opens up discussion about who’s in and who’s out, it turns upside down the belief that only the rich, famous or connected can succeed. In contrast it invites the rich, successful and famous to reconsider their path. It tells a story of belonging, where the lost are found and the renegades are restored. It challenges the status quo; the mediocre and invites you to risk it all; to come alive.
The story also carries a warning, a wake up call to those who become so involved in their own story they’ve stopped being interested in the stories of those around them. Or perhaps more accurately the wake up call is a reminder of the devastation that can ensue when we start to think that we’re the centre of the story, the main character, the greatest showman and in doing so we forget that actually we’re all in this together and we all have a part we must play if the story is to continue!
So why does it connect so deeply within us? Well, there’s another story, one that has been unfolding since the beginning of time, where an extravagantly reckless creator speaks a whole new world into being. This story embraces fully all that it means to be human. It invites us all to participate and invites us all to belong! It’s the story that connects deeply within us that whispers to us of what life could be, that evokes dreams and urges us into a new reality. Those ‘I’ve always wanted to try that’ feelings are your invitation to “risk it all” and “walk the tightrope” of adventure! This story has at its heart a divine force, a creative spirit that invites us to dream with our eyes wide open of world where love wins and truth reigns. In living for that world, that kingdom, we find that we come alive. It’s the story that’s so eloquently paraphrased by ‘Phillip Carlyle’:
“When I first met you I had an inheritance, acclaim, an invitation to every party in town. Now thanks to you all that’s gone. All that’s left is friendship, love and a worth that I adore. You brought joy into my life-into all our lives!”
That’s what the eternal story invites us to journey deeper into. A letting go of what we thought mattered, a stepping off the path we thought would take us where we wanted to be. This story invites us to follow a path that’s a little more unlikely, that sometimes doesn’t make sense but one that ultimately connects us with who we are and all that we’re meant to be! I think Jesus called it ‘life in all its fullness’!
*shout out to Marianne Williamson-A Return to Love!