A couple of days ago, on Saturday February 15th, my mother and I buried my father. I had arranged for a service full of hope and praise for our God. I spoke for a couple of minutes myself, and showed a scene from Avatar. Jake’s first flight was my father’s favorite scene from his favorite movie. We had watched it together (for the umptieth time), just him and me, on New Year’s Day; my father was in a lot of pain then and I put this film on to distract and comfort him, for I knew how deeply it moved him every time he watched it.
Avatar: Living in harmony with nature and all of creation
My dad always looked at life through his faith and belief in the God of the bible. His particular focus was on the beauty of creation, and how it showed the existence of the Creator Himself. He looked at all of creation, from the tiniest detail on a butterfly’s wing to the biggest supernova in a galaxy far, far away. He enjoyed nature in all of its forms and loved animals, especially the ones with which you can have a personal connection.
My dad honored God by striving to make the intangible beauty of creation tangible and visible, really noticeable, for people. He did that, among other things, by his photography. Especially macro photography, showing the wondrous beauty that is hidden in the tiny details of small flowers and animals.
This love for creation’s beauty also led him to gather pictures made by the Hubble telescope – letting himself be mesmerized by colorful nebulas and mysterious heaps of stars and planets lightyears away from us.
The common theme was always: discovering God’s presence by studying and enjoying creation, in both the big and the small things. The bible tells us the same thing in Romans 1:20:
For ever since the creation of the universe his invisible qualities – both his eternal power and his divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they can be understood from what he has made. Therefore, they have no excuse.
My father was deeply convinced that when we die, only our temporary ‘packaging’ dies, like the seed of wheat that must perish before it can become that which it’s designed to be: a stalk of wheat. God shows us in the death of the seed that we will become so much more when we die.
But someone will ask, “In what manner are the dead raised? What sort of body do they have?” Stupid! When you sow a seed, it doesn’t come alive unless it first dies. Also, what you sow is not the body that will be, but a bare seed of, say, wheat or something else; but God gives it the body he intended for it; and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. (…) So it is with the resurrection of the dead. When the body is “sown,” it decays; when it is raised, it cannot decay.
(1Cor. 15:35-38, 42)
The beauty of a stalk of wheat is in its details: the little hairs on the ear are reaching upwards, as if every stalk is standing in the field with its hands raised, praising its Creator as it were. 😉
And like a stalk of wheat reaches out to heaven, so my dad reached upwards to God in his life, longing to be free of earthly limitations. But not because he was feeling dejected – on the contrary: fueled by his deep longing for God he loved to think and fantasize about all the possibilities that would be within his reach “later, when I’m in heaven.”
My dad and I always said to eachother: when we’re both in heaven, we’re going to explore the entire universe together, no longer limited by such mundane things as “oxygen” or travelling “as slow as the speed of light”. (Now that’s a date!)
He was already looking forward to being able to travel distances between galaxies in an instant, and checking out everything with his own eyes that the Hubble telescope was only able to glance at from afar.
I believe that was why he was a science fiction fan: these movies ignore limitations and show us all kinds of possibilities. Not only the fastest spaceships to boldly go where no one has gone before, but also the many characteristics and abilities, represented by different alien peoples, that mirrored my father’s desire to leave earthly limitations behind. Like the special ability of teleportation, or such a simple but beautiful thing as having wings.
My dad’s favorite movie was Avatar, which shows us many of his heart’s desires and passions: living life in close harmony with nature and with eachother, with deep connections to different kinds of animals, and enjoying creation’s beauty without any limitations. That is what his favorite scene in the movie, Jake’s first flight, is about. This scene always moved him deeply, each and every time he saw it. The last time with me, last New Year’s Day.
The main character, Jake Sully, flies on the back of an ikran, a winged creature he’s just bonded with, for the very first time. His face shows the ecstasy of flying, rising like an eagle, soaring on the wind, connected to a living creature that carries him willingly. And we see how his happiness deepens as soon as his mate, the woman he loves, joins him on his flight.
This is how this scene expresses my father’s heart: playfully exploring and enjoying the grand beauty of creation, reaching out to God by literally breaking loose from everything earthly, soaring on the wind of the Holy Spirit together with the one he loved.
Rising like an eagle, soaring on the wind – Fly dad, fly!
May the Lord bless you and keep you.