..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

LOST, Spiritual Direction, and Hope

I admit it: I watch LOST. Been watching LOST
since the beginning but it took last night's
episode, "Tricia Tanaka is Dead" to get me
"out of the closet."

I like to think I watch LOST because I am a
spiritual director and like to look at the life
situations of different people to see what
makes life tough for all different kinds of folks.
My theory on LOST is that it is the saving
journey of some archetypal characters whose
life scripts of misery and death desperately
need to be re-written and healed. What
fodder for the spiritual director's notebook!
That's the official version of why I watch
anyway! :)

Last night's episode had a flashback of large,
lovable Hurley as he tries to deal with the
fortune and misfortune that came to him from
winning the lottery by playing those
unlucky numbers. His dad, played by Cheech
Marin, yes, that Cheech, plays a well-meaning
but fallible dad --you can imagine what kind of
dad that might be just by what is conjured up
by your own association with that name.

But Cheech's dad makes one good point,
"Hope is what is needed." Hurley is beginning
to despair of his rich but death-filled life.
He is beginning to feel that forces larger
than himself are conspiring to destroy him
and everything around him. He feels his life
has been taken over by things very large and

Perhaps this is why Hurley lands on the island.
In this episode he goes exploring in the jungle
and comes across, of course, a wrecked
Volkwagon "hippie" van. The bus has the
skeleton (of course) of one of the Dharma
Initiative workers and tons of multi-decade
old beer! Ugh!

Hurley runs to get help. He gets Charlie and
Jin, and a reluctant Sawyer to help him. He
feels he can get the bus started and restore
the bus. The whole idea seems crazy, after all,
they are in the middle of jungle, and have no
real need for a van, plus it is pretty wrecked,
but Hurley sees this as a personal mission.

They roll the van to a top of a ridge and out
before them is the most magnificent vista:
a Garden-of-Eden-like landscape. Hurley
wants them to tip the car, with him in the
driver's seat, down this steep incline so he
can pop the clutch and get the van started.
His friends try to dissuade him because the
incline is very steep and littered with large

He is not to be stopped. He jumps in the
driver's seat, and Charlie then jumps in
next to him, to "ride shotgun." Sawyer and
Jin push them over the ledge and a
dizzlingly fast and steep ride begins.

The van begins to pick up speed and
Hurley looks like, "Oh, my, what have
I done!" Just as it looks like the van
is out of control and that it might hit
a wall of rocks, the engine turns over and
an 8-track, stuck in the 8-track player,
starts playing, "The Road to Shambala"
by Three Dog Night. The mood
immediately and immeasurably lightens
and Sawyer and Jin and Vincent, the
long-missing dog, (who I have, of course,
worried about for months) all jump
into the van and have an idyllic if not
intoxicating and liberating ride.

I have recapped all this, because as I
was watching this I could feel the
profound effect of what was happening
to Hurley, and to Charlie, and even
to the recalcitrant and hardened Sawyer.
Hurley and Charlie were in last ditch
efforts to take back their lives from
a sort of spirit of destruction that had
attached itself to them.

Hurley's hippie dad was right, what
he needed was hope, radical hope, even "hope
against hope." For as anyone knows who has tried
to start a gasoline engine after it has been
sitting idle for years--there is little earthly
reason to expect a positive turnover.

We often get ourselves to the place where
we feel that we are trapped and stalled and
that nothing will get us out of our predicament.
We may feel at the mercy of sinister forces bigger
then ourselves. We may feel that there is little
hope for our life engine to start.

With what shall we fight off these forces
trying to hold us down? As Hurley and
Charles noted, "We must take back our
lives." In dream interpretation it is
often important to note who is driving
a vehicle when it appears in our dreams.
Ideally, I should be driving my own car
or bus or bicycle. If I have given control
of my life to someone else, then they often
end up in my dream world in the driver's
seat of my car.

I breathed a visible sigh of relief when
Hurley took a life-threatening chance
to break free of his bondage. I could
feel something break open within
my own heart: Hope.

The Bible says that "hope deferred
makes the heart sick" (Prov 13:2).
We must have a vision to go on. We must
feel that we are not at the mercy of
malevolent forces. Now as a Christian
I can also say that I am convinced that
God should be in the driver's seat of my
life. Should Jesus, therefore, be appearing
in the driver's seat, in the dreams of a
Christian? I think not.

There is a sense that God does "drive"
the life of a Christian who has turned
over control to Him. But He does not
drive so that we feel "driven" if you hear
what I am saying. He drives to engage
with us: to "pop our clutch" so to speak.
He drives to liberate, to give us "a future
and a hope." He lets us "drive" more
like a dad who lets his child sit on his lap
and "drive." Yet, it is we who get up and
go forward toward Him, feeling that He is
a capable driver who will take us to where
we need to be. That is our hope and it
leads us not to "sit on the beach and mope"
as Hurley suggests, but to faith-filled

As this episode progresses what really
got to me was the look of amazement
on Sawyer's face when the engine started.
There is a classic editor's cut to Sawyer
thinking hard and long about the nature of
life and the possibility of hope in his own life.

And in the background, "up violins,"
the strains of "Road to Shambala"
a place of happiness, and light, being
played sweetly and gently by stringed

It is God who gives us hope--even the
ability to hope. It is we who must
take Him up on it. It is we who must
jump into the broken van of our
life and wholeheartedly plunge
toward Him. It is He who will
break the darkness around us,
He who will liberate, He who will
cause us to live in peace and
reconciliation--not Shambala
but the everlasting Kingdom of
His dear Son. So let us live free, in
great hope, or will surely die.

P.S. A week before this episode aired
I had a vision of myself standing
on the edge of this most
magnificent Garden-of-Edenlike
vista, looking over at the most
dizzyingly steep precipice, knowing
I must be willing to jump and freefall at
a great speed. Way cool. Now how
much awesome divine synchronicity
is that?

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