Maleficent — Knocking Down Walls With the Power of Love

This past Friday Suzanne and I went to see Maleficent.  It’s the backstory of Sleeping Beauty, featuring Angelina Jolie as the title character, who first appears by name in the classic Disney version of Sleeping Beauty.
I will try not to reveal too much plot or any spoilers, but there are a couple of metaphysical lessons in this movie.
We first meet Maleficent as a young girl, a fairy who is a leader of the fairy kingdom.  Across the moors is a kingdom of humans and the two barely get along.  One day, a young man named Stefan comes into the kingdom and he and Maleficent become fast friends and fall in love.  On her sixteenth birthday, he gives Maleficent the gift of “true love’s kiss” — but sadly, it does not last.  His ambition to be king causes him to betray her.
The King wants Maleficent killed.  Whoever can do it will be his successor.  Stefan cuts off her wings and brings them to the King.  He is anointed successor.
The years pass, and King Stefan and his queen have a child, a princess they name Aurora.  (Aurora means “light”.  It is also the name of the goddess of the dawn.)  From here, much of the familiar story of Sleeping Beauty kicks in, but with additional wrinkles.
Seeking revenge, Maleficent lays a curse on Princess Aurora — that on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger and go into “a sleep like death” that can only be broken by “true love’s kiss.”  Stefan entrusts Aurora to the care of three pixies until the day after her sixteenth birthday.
Maleficent saves a bird named Diaval and turns him into a human.  He switches back and forth at various times to be Maleficent’s wings. She also constructs a wall of thorns to keep the humans from Stefan’s kingdom from ever again setting foot in the moors.  (The moors are also protected by some very strange looking creatures that made me think that some who failed auditions to be orcs and ents in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies found jobs at Disney.)
Every day Maleficent watches Aurora, to the point that when Aurora finally meets her, she identifies Maleficent as her fairy godmother.  By this time, Maleficent has developed a real love for Aurora and is trying to find a way to undo her curse.  Unfortunately, when she spoke it, she decreed that no power on Earth could break it.  (It takes a power greater than that of humans and fairies.)
Eventually, Maleficent tears down her own wall and heads for the castle to try to save Aurora, but she is too late and Aurora is in the deep death-like sleep decreed by the curse.  A prince from another kingdom arrives  and he kisses her, but that doesn’t do the job.  Eventually, however, the right kiss arrives and she awakes.
Meanwhile, Stefan is trying to kill Maleficent.  There is a great battle, Maleficent turns Diaval into a dragon, but they’re trapped.  However, Aurora has been poking around the castle and comes on the display case where Maleficent’s wings are stored.  She breaks it, the wings fly in, the day is saved.
What do we draw from this story?
First, the power of love.  It takes true love to awaken Aurora and it takes true love to end Maleficent’s desire for revenge.  (She also realizes that Aurora may be the way to peace between the two kingdoms.)  Their love for each other saves them both.  The movie is a testament to the power of love to overcome the hatreds of the world.  Love overcomes revenge and causes Maleficent to release it.
Second, we see that only you can tear down your walls.  No one can do it for you.  And as long as those walls stand, you cannot let anyone in.  That cuts you off from the world.  Breaking down those walls is essential for love to flourish.
All in all, a lovely afternoon well spent.


“We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself.” — Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Suzanne and I watched the first episode of Cosmos together.  I don’t know who wrote it, but there was a LOT of New Thought in the script — and they think it’s just science.
The host, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York (one of my very favorite places growing up), went through the long history of the cosmos, from the Big Bang to the present day.  It’s amazing how small a part of that time we’ve been around.
Some years ago, I read a book entitled The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Material World by Dr. Amit Goswami, one of the scientists featured in What the Bleep Do We Know?  Dr. Goswami sys something similar to the Tyson quote from tonight’s episode that I cited above: “The Universe is self-aware through us.”
We are the eyes, ears, and senses of the Infinite.  It deliberately, consciously, intentionally chose to express as you and me, as each of us, as that which came before, as that which comes after.  So what kind of awareness are you expressing?
At this week’s service at Celebration Center, we were given the suggestion to “surrender your idea of who you think you are to the possibility of who you really are.”  So who are you really?  Dr. Tyson, Dr. Goswami, and others give us a suggestion of who we really are.
We know that our awareness defines our Universe.  Our awareness does not define THE Universe — it’s way too big for that — but it defines ours.  How are you defining your Universe?  Step back and check it out.
Cosmos runs Sunday nights at 9 PM Eastern on Fox and Monday nights at 10 Eastern on National Geographic.
-Tim Phares, RScP

Pippin – Taking the Best Life Offers




IN JUST NO TIME AT ALL — Stephen Schwartz, Pippin

A while ago, Suzanne and I saw a production of Pippin.  The show deals with the life of Pippin, son of Charlemagne.  It has interesting observations on power and life, and “No Time at All”, the song from which the above is taken, as well as “Corner of the Sky” (a song our choir did in concert a few years ago), expresses a metaphysical view.

These lyrics make the point that we should always be living life and doing it in the now.  We should be soaking it in, appreciating the gifts of Spirit, and fully throwing ourselves with joy into the living of every moment.

A few months ago at the Tony Awards, Broadway’s salute to the best of theatre this year, we were thrilled to see that Pippin was awarded Best Revival of a Musical.  (Also, Andrea Martin won for Best Featured Actress.)  Every nominated show got to put on one number or one scene (for a “straight play”).  All the performances and speeches exemplified excellence.  Seeing such excellence on display is an inspiration.  The revival is currently enjoying a successful Broadway run.

In its original incarnation back in he 1970s, Pippin changed the way Broadway shows advertised.  Before Pippin, it was essentially, “We have a show.  Channels 2, 4, and 7 like it.  The TimesPost and Daily News like it. It’s at this theatre. Come see us.”  Instead of that, we got “Here’s 60 seconds of Pippin” (and it was Ben Vereen dancing, I think from the opening song “Magic to Do”). Then they told us the theatre.  The show had a nice long run, so everyone started to do it that way.  This was reaching out to find a new way of doing things.

At our Center years ago, we used to have stickers that read, “I am committed to excellence.”  By committing yourself to excellence, on stage or in whatever endeavor you undertake, you uplift every activity in your life.  In so doing, you uplift those around you as well. Commit yourself to excellence in all your endeavors today and you will reveal the magnificence of your world.  And when it’s revealed, accept it with gusto.

As Pippin’s grandmother, Berthe, who sings the words above, tells us:

Here is a secret I never have told.
Maybe you’ll understand why.
I believe if I refuse to grow old
I can stay young till I die.

A great observation.  (I’ve long said that I intend to die young – at a VERY advanced age.)  By keeping our youthful outlook on life, the outlook of possibility, we keep ourselves in position to grab what the world gives us, to find our corner of the sky.  Are you ready to take a little of the world you’re given?  Or maybe a lot?  The only limit is the size of your container.  So fill it to the rim with the most excellent things you can find.

Tim Phares, RScP


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