The World of Childhood.
Those original Disney movies remain great celebrations of the world of childhood, from Lady and the Tramp to Dumbo, from One Hundred and One Dalmations to Pinocchio, each film celebrates the wonder of wonder and how powerful imagination and story can be. This week I have been thinking alot about Peter Pan because within that film there are many underlying themes beneath the pirates and mermaids and fairies. One of those themes is Peter’s shadow, and with shadows being something I have thought alot about lately this theme intrigued me. In one of the first encounters we have with Peter in the film his shadow somehow “falls off”. The notion of a free shadow is something that brings mystery and imagination to the fore immediately, so we know that our encounter with the world of Peter is going to take us outside of the known. The film reveals many contrasts; courage and fear, fantasy and reality, happiness and sadness, strength and weakness, past and future, and as I think about these contrasts I am reminded about our daiy lives that they are not all one shade of light but each day is full of contrasts. A theology that bases itself on one shade of joy for example will struggle to walk through the contrasts. We may even straddle the world of both contrasts within each experience. Having a working theology that shapes to the world we walk in, and not trying to shape everything we walk in to our theology helps us to be people that are whole and more fluid. More open to endless possibilities. This could be what Jesus meant when He said we needed to become like little children, not childish full of tantrums, but childlike in the shaping of our world and ideas, full of wonder and awe and surprise.
Shadows of Shape and Colour.
In reality a shadow is a dark spot on the ground. In Peter Pan the shadow has colour, shape, texture, tangible. Reality of family life in the film is challenged when the Darling family accept the fantasy of a shadow falling off. Wendy even seems to know how to reattach it. Those in the film seen to be trying to banish childlike ideas and thinking actually have a childlike belief in fantasy. A suggestion that no one really fully grows up. In reality a shadow is the projected image of a blocked light source. In order for a shadow to exist both light and darkness must both be present. The light ‘awakens’ the shadow. In Peter Pan life and childhood is shaped by both these elements, and so are our lives. The children of Neverland are shown to be playful, free, adventurous and happy, but at the same time they are lost, stranded and without a mother. Both happiness and sadness together shape our lives, that is why I find it so difficult to accept a Christianity that just promotes happiness and healing. Yes I believe in those things but they only create an unbalanced adolescent. There must be the shades of the shadow to perfect in us something that only one shade cannot. There needs to be a coexistence to create life, just as photosynthesis needs rain as well as the sun, so our lives need sun and rain to develop and mature in our childlike ways.
The Shadow Awakes.
Barrie creates a shadow of such complexity that it becomes a character of it’s own in the film and play. Peter and his shadow dance together, Peter brings the shadow to life. To everyone the shadow symbolises something different and yet to all there is intrigue and imagination running wild. That is what I hope from this blog to create a place where imagination can run wild, where the child in us can dream, where our intrigue takes us to fresh places, where a world of contrasts shapes us and shapes the world in which we live. With Peter a fresh world opened up for Wendy and her brothers, I trust for us to a new world will open up. A world where anything is possible. That it would truly be a place to fly. I welcome you to the voices and the world of the shadows. A place to dream up fresh dreams and gain fresh vision. To awaken something in us that until now may have laid dormant. Welcome to the journey as it unfolds. My journey, your journey, our journey, others journeys, lost boys, found boys. Living under the shadow of His wing.