Saturday, December 03, 2016

Facing Up to the Enemy

I didn’t plan to watch the whole Matrix trilogy last night. Our paths crossed. It was a planets-lining-up-moment and I went with it.

I have seen them all before but not recently, and not one after the other. I understood the first one and thought it was very clever.  And then it gets all too philosophical. A group of young people and I were debating the whole issue of free-will and came to the conclusion that we are not really free at all because, even taking away all the rules we live by, we are surrounded by the fitting-in thing and a list of what society expects and rewards and punishes, not by prison, but by ostracising us.

That said, I sat down to join Neo on his journey through the Matrix. I have probably mentioned before that I am not a film watcher that keeps a respectable distance from what is going on. I have a joining-in gene when it comes to watching stuff. Sometimes it is kept in check.  At other times I let myself off the leash.

So last night, I sat on the sofa joining in. I did all the martial arts poses as best as I could, sitting down. I did the swirly arms thing and the arm blocks and the chopping motions. And I made the right sound effects as I watched. There was no point where Neo was ever fighting on his own – I was there. Can I just tell you how cathartic that whole first film was for me? Every real and imagined foe I had encountered during the week, I thought about, and I chopped them to bits. And did I laugh? Absolutely.

The second film began. I opted not to try to figure out the philosophy. Remember, it was Friday night and I was rather brain-fried. I was looking for fluff and nonsense. I wasn’t really getting the finer moments of the story line – just continuing my seated Kung-Fu poses. There’s a bit in the film where Neo and his friends are in a tunnel, being chased by a lot of sentinels, squirmy robots with a gazillion tentacles. They are running, the sentinels are hot on their heels. Neo turns and lifts his hand and the sentinels explode in a fire-work flash of lights.

“St Columba!” I roared.

This is not a new swear word. I had been exploring the life of St Columba with a bunch of young people – a different bunch from the ones who had the free-will discussion. In the story of St Columba, he and his friends have an encounter with the Loch Ness Monster. The monster was terrorising the people who lived near the River Ness. One man has been bitten and had died. Columba had buried the man.  Later he told one of his friends to swim across the river to fetch the boat. (Oh, yes, St Columba – of course I’m going to swim across the river to get a boat, even though the monster had just bitten someone – sure, no problem – NOT) Well, without hesitation the man began swimming. And yes the monster appeared. St Columba made the sign of the cross and commanded the monster to “Go no further!” and it turned tail and ran.

St Columba wasn’t a man to shrink back. He faced up to all sorts of scary things. There are so many stories of him and his men going out of their way to confront the things that scared themselves and others. We had a great time swapping stories of our phobias and trying to work out why we held them. We also talked about how to deal with them. One girl talked about her parent’s friend who worked with spiders visiting them with a whole collection of stuff and teaching them how to handle hairy legs crawling over them and to not feel alarmed, giving them information about habitats and lifestyles and, in the process, pulling out the little splinters of fear that had become embedded.

St Columba was a man who took God at His word. The opening chapters of Genesis contain the creation story. People are made in the image of God and given dominion, power to rule, over the birds of the air, the fish in the sea and every creature that moves over the land. Columba took that to heart. God had given him that power and he used it. I know that one day in the near future my free-will discussion young people will be exploring these opening chapters and dissecting them – but I want to have a St Columba spirit about the authority we have been given. I want to face my own Loch Ness monsters fearlessly and command them to “Go no further”.

St Columba and the Loch Ness monster! Neo and the sentinels! The brain made the connection. Neo’s hand raised became my hand raised too. Both of us raised our hands against the sentinels.  Both of us witnessed victory over them. Neo collapsed and I roared out “St Columba!”

In my quiet time this morning – well, it wasn’t really quiet at all, a hand was raised and authority was taken and a few monsters commanded to “Go no further!”

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