I recently watched the movie Avatar again with my family. You remember the story of Jake Sully—he’s a disabled ex-marine assigned to duty on beautiful Pandora, a planet full of exotic nature-loving natives called Avatars.
Jake’s assignment is unusual; although he is paralyzed and no longer able to use his lower extremities, he will become one of the Avatars with the aid of scientific technology and “take over” the able-bodied body of an Avatar native. This way, he can better build relationships, win the creatures over, and complete his mission.
Along the way, he meets Neytiri, who’s assigned to Jake by the tribal leadership to mentor him in the ways of her people. In the course of time, they fall in love and this subplot provides the context for the remainder of the film.
But what I have always thought was so, so good about this movie is the message of this story within the story: that love is not an emotion but is an action. You don’t “love” someone, you see someone. To love is to see. I love you? No. I see you.
How cool is that.
Over a decade ago, Susan Walker, deeply haunted by the story of a Chicago baby found in a dumpster, decided that the little boy she was continually hearing about on the news was precious and mustered up the courage to ask the Chicago coroner’s office if they would allow her to bury him properly. She says that although she had no connection to the abandoned infant whatsoever, she just couldn’t stop seeing him in her mind.
Although she had asked, and although she had wanted it, she was actually shocked when the city officials agreed and handed the baby over to Susan. That’s when Susan reached out to friends and family for help, intent and focused on her mission.
But never did she expect that one week later she would get another call from the coroner. She was horrified. How could it be that two more babies actually needed the same? And in such a short period of time!?
Eventually, Susan formed and founded Rest in His Arms, and just recently, with the help of a group of like-minded women in a western suburb of Chicago, she buried Baby Hope, “her” 31st child.
That’s when I met her. I’d been asked to be part of this very surreal experience by doing a reading. And as I sat, waiting for my turn to participate, I was blown away: Our passions and gifts are different, but our call is the same. To see and therefore begin to be able to participate in building God’s Kingdom, using our unique calls and gifts to share the gospel.
And you? What’s your future?
Like Susan, who have you seen?
When God gives us the grace to notice and pay attention, we are, in the language of the Avatars, loving.
Pamela Klein is the Editor of On Q