This is the 7th post of a series. To read the sixth post, entitled “going through the motions” CLICK HERE.
If you need some context, links to all of the previous posts are provided at the end of this post.
Back to August 2012.
In the middle of everything that was happening, I was struck with a memory that cut through 25 years. Buried in my mind, probably nestled somewhere between the lyrics of Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch, was a scene from the movie Labyrinth.
Seems straightforward. Just a story. A fairy tale.
But even the filmmakers intended it to be a metaphor.
Here’s the backstory/narrative:
The protagonist, a young girl named Sarah, was on a quest. She had to find her way through a magical labyrinth in search of a child who had been stolen by an evil King.
At one point, the evil King causes Sarah to lose her memory and she finds herself in the middle of a junk yard. As she stands, she braces herself against what she thinks is a pile of junk, but it turns out to be a woman, with about 3 feet of junk strapped to her back. There are more junk people everywhere, sifting through piles. As Sarah looks around with a confused expression on her face; all she can remember is that she was searching for something.
She wanders aimlessly through the junk yard, followed by the Junk Lady who’s babbling incessantly. After a few minutes, Sarah stops, looking around, lost and bewildered, and mumbles,
“I was searching for something.”
The Junk Lady, immediately responsive, says “Well, look here!” and hands Sarah what appears to be her Teddy Bear.
Sarah, recognizing something familiar and comforting, immediately takes the Teddy Bear and thanks the Junk Lady who replies “That’s what you were looking for, wasn’t it my dear?” Sarah holds the bear close
“Yes. I forgot.”
Then the Junk Lady leads Sarah through a path in the junk, toward a door, saying “Why don’t you come in here and see if there’s anything else you like?” Sarah steps through the door into what appears to be her bedroom. Filled with relief, she throws herself on her bed and covers her head with a pillow.
She’s home. She’s safe.
Until she opens her bedroom door to find her father. At which point, the Junk Lady barges in,
“Better to stay in here dear! There’s nothing you want out there.”
She begins handing Sarah stuffed animals and dolls and toys, naming each one and reminding Sarah how much she loves them. As Sarah sits, her arms overloaded with dolls and toys, she seems almost in a trance and softly says, “There was something I was looking for.” The Junk Lady immediately tells her
“Don’t talk nonsense! It’s all here, everything in the world you’ve ever cared about is all right here.”
Still loaded down with all the stuff the Junk Lady has been handing her, Sarah spots a book and reaches for it.
It’s the story she’s in. The story she’s forgotten she’s in. She begins reading:
“Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered…”
Suddenly, she remembers. And the Junk Lady knows it. “What’s the matter my dear, don’t you like your toys?”
Sarah is overcome with the realization: “It’s all junk!”
She throws one of the “treasures” the Junk Lady has given her and suddenly the walls of the room begin to collapse, revealing the truth. She’s in the middle of a junk yard.
It was a facade.
I looked around the sanctuary and I could see it. It was a facade.
Without Christ, it’s all junk.
Does that offend you? Stay with me, I’m making a point. I promise.
Sarah was looking for something, but she was deceived into believing all that other stuff was what she really needed and wanted.
The truth behind that scene hit home 25 years ago and it cuts even deeper today. The evil King was powerful. Why didn’t he just throw her into a dungeon? Why didn’t he just kill her? Satan is evil and he has power in this world. Why doesn’t he order some evil little minion destroy that sanctuary?
Because there’s no need. It’s too easy to distract instead. To provide things of comfort and security. Beautiful things. Things that make sense and are familiar.
Good enough things.
If you think about it, most things that end up in a junk yard were desired at some point. Somewhere along the line, someone bought or made or was given each and every item. Whether functional and useful or just something pretty to look at (and dust), the items that end up in the junk yard are things that no longer have value to us.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Sarah could have embraced the facade of her bedroom and all the things she thought she wanted and needed. She could have abandoned her quest and settled into a life of comfort and security, forgetting all about the child she was searching for, never venturing outside her comfort zone, never talking to the junk people or dealing with all that junk. But thankfully, because of a book, she remembered.
Once she discovered the truth, she knew she couldn’t stay nestled in that safe, comfortable facade. She intentionally destroyed the facade of comfort and safety even though it meant coming face to face with the junk.
Because she remembered she was looking for something.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
by C. S. Lewis
[This post is the seventh in a multi-part series, written mostly in early autumn 2012, published now for the first time. Here are the previous posts in order by date: