As we approach the festivities of Christmas, Bishop Lee reflects on holding together hope and warning in the coming of the Christ child.
Some of you will know that one of the blessings I have discovered as a result of my chemotherapy is going to a midweek late showing at the cinema. It started after Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode had given me a great desire to see ‘Rush’ – a retelling of the rivalry between Formula 1 racers Nicky Lauda and James Hunt. On that occasion I went to a sparsely populated theatre with my daughter and since then I have seen ‘Captain Phillips’ and, last night, ‘Gravity’, with other friends. The fact that the steroid premedication keeps me up most of the night has been one driver while the fact that ‘chemo’ falls on a Wednesday has also helped (we have a mobile phone with the Two for One Film offer for Wednesday.)
‘Gravity’ turned out to be cinematically awesome, especially in 3D, and a gripping story. Without wanting to spoil any plot line, at one point in the movie Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is trying to connect with Houston or another Space Station but only manages to link with a Chinese amateur radio ham. As he only speaks Chinese, and Ryan doesn’t, it is a recipe for frustration but two noises in the background lead to a flow of emotion. The second of these is the sound of a baby.
At first we see hope kindled in Ryan, her demeanour changes and she is totally absorbed by the infant. But the child’s presence then opens her up to repressed feelings of grief and loss; from hope and a future Ryan loses her sense of both.
‘Gravity’ may be complete fiction but, as with the best that Hollywood produces, it explores the realities of what it means to be human. The day after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, the newscasters carried reports of Emily Sagales, the 21 year old who had given birth to a girl in the midst of the devastation caused by 170 mph winds. Emily had had to swim through the floods and hold on for dear life before finding safety in the smashed airport.