Spoiler alert: If you haven't watched Finding Dory, and plan to, don't read this!!
Dory has been my favourite animated movie character ever since Finding Nemo in 2003. Something about Dory's absent minded, talking to whales, sunny, random hilarity reminded me of me and my friends.
So of course when Finding Dory came out, I went to see it. It was not very original, but pretty entertaining. when a movie actually gets me to laugh aloud, I count it a good movie.
But the best movies are the ones that give me a glimpse of something deeper, a truth that resonates with my soul. And that's what happened as I watched Finding Dory.
The movie is all about how Dory, a fish with short term memory loss loses her parents as a child, and as an adult remembers that she lost them, and crosses the ocean trying to find them again. (I'd think this was a slightly scary premise for a kid's movie- thinking you could just LOSE your parents was a real possibility must be a kid's worst fear). She keeps having flashbacks to her childhood, and remembers how her parents lovingly helped Baby Dory deal with her memory problem in different ways, including training her to follow a trail of shells to find her way back home. (Can I just say how adorable Baby Dory is?)
But after the expected set of obstacles and detours and appearance of new friends who help poor forgetful ENFP Dory, she finally finds her childhood home- and it's abandoned.
The moment when you see the abandoned home feels like what I imagine it would feel like to find there really was no God, no purpose, that life was devoid of meaning, and hopelessness was the only appropriate response. I've had nightmares like that.
And then, and then... she sees the beginning of a trail of shells. Is it possible? Could she have stumbled upon a trail of shells her parents had laid for her? Was it possible?
She follows the trail, and sees a home in the ocean.... AND THEN you see a hundred trails of shells leading in all directions from the home... and her parents old, and still laying shells hoping that one day, one day, their daughter would come looking for them, and would find one of the trails of shells that would lead her back to home.. and I'm weeping because THAT, THAT EXACTLY IS HOW GOD LOVES US! The faithful Father, waiting, watching for the prodigal to return. The God who never gets tired of calling us back, of laying shell-trails- signs along our path, pointing us back to our true home with Him.
Dory innocently lost her way (this movie must be so meaningful to parents with special needs kids), and her parents didn't just give up and start a new life without her. But we CHOSE to turn away, and STILL God didn't give up on loving us, and devising ways to bring us back.
A few days ago an acquaintance was telling us how his brother had strayed far from God, for years had made power and money and success his gods. Until one day when he went for a nominal Confession. He made a perfunctory Confession, but suddenly the priest started telling him all the sins he had not said- thing that the priest couldn't have known. (Padre Pio was known to have done the same.) This man suddenly heard God speaking loudly into his life... and then the priest told him, "God says to tell you- I am the eighth person He's sent." God had been sending people to call His son back. And even when he ignored them, he sent another one, and another one.
Finding Dory reminded me of the truth that no nightmare can take away from me- I am NOT alone. I am loved, forgiven and awaited. How sweet it is to be loved by You, Lord.