[Editor’s note: Some of you will remember Matthew Aughtry from Hutchmoot a few years ago. He and his friend Nathan Willis shot Andrew Peterson’s “Rest Easy” music video as well the “What Is Hutchmoot?” short. Matthew has made several short films since then and his newest was just born yesterday. We’re happy to feature it here today and we invited him to write a little about why he made it. Enjoy, and merry Christmas!]
I became a father in September and, at the risk of employing a cliche, it has changed the way that I see the world. I spend a lot of time now just staring into my son’s eyes. There may be nothing more beautiful in the world than a baby’s eyes.
They haven’t had the chance to become clouded with cynicism, nor do they have any pretense that they fully grasp what they’re seeing. Everything is new, everything is filled with wonder, each object is weighted with vast potential.
I have no doubt that this film wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t recently become a father. Perhaps the most natural thing in the world for a parent to do is to wonder about his or her child’s future. So as I stared into my son’s eyes one night I began to wonder what his eyes would see in this world. I started to ponder what his hands would do and where his feet would take him. Then I thought of Mary.
Did she do the same thing? Perhaps she was full of even more questions than I am. After all, his birth was preceded by the announcement of an angel from heaven. His life was full of promise. Yet did she also experience dread? Sometimes being a parent has more to do with worry than it does with wonder.
The world is a dangerous place and children are so fragile. One does not have to look very far to see evil and to fear for the survival of the good, which often seems extraordinarily meek in comparison to the powers of darkness.
This past summer I visited an art museum in Los Angeles with a group of friends. We had come to view a collection of Byzantine iconography for a brief spiritual retreat. We were there not only to enjoy to art but, if possible, to encounter the divine.
All of the work was beautiful and it enraptured my imagination, yet it was an image of Mary with her child that most ignited my heart. Her eyes were undeniably sad. It’s not that I was unaccustomed to Mary’s grief—I just wasn’t used to it being portrayed in this context. This was not the Pieta, it was the Madonna and Child. I got as close as I could to the piece without setting off an alarm. Why was she so sad?
Perhaps she had just escaped Herod’s assasins in Bethlehem and was beginning to realize that her son’s life would always be threatened by the Herods of this world. Or perhaps it had just dawned on her that this gift was not for her alone but that she would have to share him with the whole world. Or maybe she was just worried and didn’t really know why.
Yet Mary is not remembered only as the Mother of Sorrows but also as the Blessed Virgin whose soul magnified the lord and rejoiced in his favor. For many, Mary is a symbol of hope. Yet Mary’s hope is not naive.
It accepts the world as it is, it recognizes that it is dominated by malicious forces. Her hope is not that the kingdom of this earth can be righted but that it is destined to be ousted, that God’s plan is to overthrow the proud and powerful and create a kingdom of the meek and lowly in its place.
It was this kingdom that her son would usher in. It was proclaimed with every miracle, made clear with each teaching, and ultimately inaugurated when his hands and feet were nailed to a cross.
I hope my own son grows up to love this kingdom. I hope his hands bring healing and his feet bring hope. Yet I also know that belonging to this kingdom will mean seeing suffering and, ultimately, embracing it.
I wait for the day when this kingdom will come fully on earth as it is in heaven. Until then, I hope to keep telling stories that long for that day as much as I do.