This week, we turn our “Life, Death, and Disney” attention to an OLD movie: “The Lion King.” The original animated movie was released way back in 1994, yet it remains an all-time favorite for many people. Brilliant music, a star-studded voice cast, and a timeless story have given the movie lasting value. Even watching it now, almost thirty years after its appearance, the hand-drawn movie holds its own among much more technologically advanced movies produced using computer-generated imagery.
If you have a chance to watch “The Lion King” prior to this weekend, please do. It is on the Disney Plus online platform, and available in the library to check out as a DVD. Or if yours is one of those households who has an old dusty box of VHS tapes in the storeroom, dig out your old copy of “The Lion King,” try to find your VCR, see if it still works, and watch it “old school!”
The story is about Simba, a lion whose father Mufasa is the king of an area called the “Pride Lands.” However, when Mufasa dies, Simba, thinking it is his fault, runs away from his home. Unwilling (or unable) to face the challenge that lies ahead, he runs away from his life, from everything he ever knew, and from his role as the new king. In a sense, Simba “forgets” who he is and his place in his community’s story.
It gives us a question that is worth pondering…
How often would we rather forget and run away, rather than deal with things that are difficult, or upsetting, or emotional?
Isn’t it sometimes tempting to avoid grief, to avoid sorrow, to avoid difficult emotional labor of any kind, and instead “run away” into a denial or escape or toxic positivity?
Grieving the death of someone we love is a healthy way to remember who we are. As we grieve, we honor their story and our place in it. This weekend, we will think about how death prompts us to remember who we are, to remember our place in the story. Or to coin a phrase, our place in “the circle of life.”
I’ll see y’all in church!