I'm in the stage of life where Disney movies are on our screens. A LOT. One of our current favorites is Moana. As you may know, the music is gorgeous, penned by none other than Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton. If you haven't seen the film, you should, especially because you will have no idea what I want to talk about in this post!
At the end of the film, Moana gives Te Fiti her heart back. It takes her a minute to realize that the fire monster chasing after her and Maui is none other than the goddess she's crossed an ocean to find. She's looking for a magical being and instead, comes face to face with a formidable, frightening creature. There is no life in her. Bent on destruction. She is horrifying. She is a beast, ugly, representing all decay and death, the end of all fruitfulness, life and beauty.
How can the one who created the beautiful, bountiful, lush world around them become her own opposite? Where has she gone and what transformed her from life to death? If you've seen the film, you know that Maui stole her heart and used her powers for himself and tried to share them with mankind as a benefactor. He's a trickster, irreverent and full of himself (though charmingly played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). He knows not what he's done. And the ramifications of his decision change the course of his life and the lives of mankind from there on out. The earth begins to die. The coconuts are black. The lush gardens are wilting. The fish traps come up empty. Who knows how long it would have taken for Moana's people to reach their ultimate demise? The trajectory had been set.
Moana is supposed to stay on her small island, following her chief father's lead. The number one rule of her people is "no one leaves." But the ocean is calling her. Supported by her "crazy" grandmother and the ocean itself, she is drawn to go past the reef, which is forbidden. Through many twists and turns, she meets Maui, helps him off his island exile, retrieves his magical hook and convinces him to help her give back Te Fiti's heart.
In the climax of the film, Moana sees Te Fiti as the fire beast. She holds her shining green heart in the air and tells the ocean "Let her come to me." The ocean makes a path. Te Fiti, the creature of death crawls on the ground towards her menacingly. Bravely, Moana starts walking confidently towards her singing,
"I have crossed the horizon to find you.
I know your name.
They have stolen the heart from inside you.
But this does not define you.
This is not who you are.
You know who you are.
Who you truly are."
Then she brings the space between her eyes to the space between Te Fiti's eyes, a place of affection, equality and reconciliation.
As Moana places Te Fiti's heart back in her chest, the ash and fire crumble and are replaced with lush greenery, flowers, LIFE! It spreads from her chest through her whole body, to all the land, even far away on Moana's home island. Life is restored. And it is beautiful. The old is swept away. All is made new. Maui reconciles himself to her and she forgives him. She is gorgeous. She is luscious. She is nature incarnate.
Every time I see this scene unfold, tears spring to my eyes, goosebumps cover my body and my breath catches in my chest. Why? This is eternity. I was raised to believe that if you didn't do and believe certain things about God while on earth, you would spend eternity suffering in hell. I no longer believe that. I don't know what happens when we die. It's ridiculous to presume any of us do. But I believe that the reason my spirit leaps during this scene is because our hearts long for reconciliation. Reconciliation with our creator, our purpose, our souls. And I believe that will happen to all people at the end of time. That wrongs will be made right. Not through retribution and punishment but through restitution and restoration. That ash will turn to flowers. That peace will reign. And it will be glorious, gorgeous, perfect. We will be fully restored. Anything that has died, deteriorated, degenerated, atrophied will flourish, rise again, breathe anew. I long for that. Maybe we all do.
The words Moana speaks to Te Fiti apply to all of us. When we live in a way that steals peoples hearts from their chest, we are not being who we are, who we truly are. We were made for more. When we denigrate ourselves by believing we live in a world of scarcity, we fight for power and control over things that are meant to be shared. Te Fiti was doing her job, providing life for all when Maui decided he needed her powers for himself. And everyone suffered. Te Fiti suffered. She became a monster, out of touch with her divine nature. She became decaying flesh and her actions reflected that. We don't have to be defined by our traumas, by the things stripped from us. We know who we are. Our name is known. And we are made for more.
I don't want to live my life in fear. I don't want to obey in order to avoid punishment. I want to live in the land of Te Fiti, with my heart restored, creating beauty and life within and around me. I don't want to spend my time assigning blame, pointing fingers and trying to climb to the top for salvation. I want to pull up a chair at an endless banquet table, laden with enough food and drink for all. All races, all religions, all people. I want us to be a family. A diverse, somewhat crazy, beautiful human race. Don't spend your time taking hearts out of peoples chests. Be one to restore hearts. Not because we're mini saviors running around trying to bale out the sinking ship of humanity but because we must. Because we're all Te Fiti and we're all Maui. We are one. And restoration is coming for us all. If you have to cross the horizon to be found, do it. It is everything. Claim the beauty that is waiting for you.