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Tuesday, December 13, 2016


In the delightful holiday comedy Home Alone, 8 year old Kevin McAllister is quite mistakenly left behind by his large and boisterous family as they embark on a trip to Paris during the Christmas holidays.  While this unexpected bit of freedom is initially invigorating to the child, he is also forced to confront, without the protection of his buffering brood, his fear of the basement.  And his creepy loner neighbor.  And eventually, the idiotic but destructive cat burglars who menace his home.

Not unlike Kevin, I have recently been going through some life changes where structures I thought I could count on are suddenly not there anymore.  And like him, I have found myself both invigorated and forced to face some fears that were long overdue for a showdown.  But in this month of miracles, I have turned a corner that made me think of this film for the first time ever in relation to my own life.
As the days pass, Kevin becomes more and more confident in his ability to handle himself under the extreme circumstances.  He is able to overcome his fear of the basement (to do laundry) and his neighbor (to make a new friend and ally) essentially by walking up to the lion.  But it is his fear of the unknown (the cat burglars) that presents his greatest test.

His initial reaction (understandably) is to run and hide.  How often do we, even as adults have this same impulse?  But then the moment comes (for him and us) where understanding dawns:  this is our life and our domain and if we don’t take care of it, no one else will.
It is at that point in the film that Kevin utters these immortal words:  “Hey, I’m not afraid anymore!”  It is at this point in my life that I find myself essentially on the same trajectory as an 8-year old in a comedy film from the early 90’s:  I’m not afraid anymore.

It is important to note that nothing in my external circumstances has changed to prompt this epiphany.  In fact, by all objective measures, things have gotten progressively worse over the last several months of my life.  But the huge and discernable difference I have been feeling is that I am not the subject of my circumstances; they are merely the subject of my attention or lack thereof.
In the movie, Kevin decides to fight back against what would most likely appear to be insurmountable odds to the majority of children his age (and perhaps even some adults!)  His methods of resistance are both devious and ingenious.  His response to the threat to his security and well-being might be the very definition of “thinking outside the box”.

Now I would like to, as an aside, confirm the fact that Christmas films, generally speaking, have the most plainspoken wisdom about the human condition available.  A Christmas Carol?  “Mankind is my business” and it is never too late to repent.  It’s a Wonderful Life?  “No man is a failure who has friends.”  While You Were Sleeping?  “Life is a pain in the ass.”  All profound truths, right?
But I had never quite seen the mythic quality of Home Alone until this year.

Kevin takes a three-pronged approach to the assault on his security; first and foremost, ACTION.  He booby-traps his house in a manner that would stymie even the most determined crook.  Secondly, he SEEKS ASSISTANCE.  He reaches out to the big man in the red suit to restore what he has lost.  Third is PRAYER.  He requests divine protection on his quest.  We would all do well to follow his guidelines for a happy and thriving life.
The beauty of Home Alone, however, is that there is no Deus ex Machina involved in his salvation.  He wins the day through his own directed behavior, the compassionate alliance he has made with his neighbor and his faith that all with be well.  He defeats the men who were threatening his home, but still makes time to prepare for the return of his family, as he has both prayed (to God) and asked (Santa) for; the stockings hanging on the hearth are a symbol of his active faith.

How often in life do we act without faith?  Or pray without acting?  Or seek assistance without being clear what we really want?  Or fail to seek assistance when we do? 
Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  I don’t know what the kingdom of heaven means to you, but to me it is perfect faith and self-assurance, no matter what is going on around me.  Faith that all will be well (no matter what) and self-assurance (that I can handle it, no matter what). 

I’m not afraid anymore.  Life is a pain in the ass, but there is nothing life can throw at me that I am not equal to.  I’m not afraid anymore.  Mankind is my business; there is nothing worth doing or having or being that isn’t worth fighting for, and I am both worthy and to my very core a fighter.  I’m not afraid anymore.  No one is a failure who has friends, and I have faith that there are people who will support me and love me (no matter what). 
I’m not afraid anymore. 

Sometimes, when we face our fears, we discover they are silly (the basement).  Sometimes, when we face our fears, we realize we have been missing out (the “creepy” neighbor who turns out to be a savior and friend).  Sometimes, when we face our fears, we realize there is a fight ahead of us (the cat burglars).  But always, when we face our fears, we realize we are equal to them.  We realize it is a fair fight.
And then, we are not afraid anymore.