Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST Finale Reflections

"Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit." Luke 23:46

SPOILER WARNING: Do not read on unless you have seen the finale episode of LOST or don't care one way or the other. But be warned that this blog will include major spoilers.

The final episode of LOST, appropriately titled "The End," gave closure to one of the finest television shows in history. In fact, it spoke a lot about closure for all of us.

It seems that the flash-sideways that we have seen this past season are not an alternate reality or a dream sequence, but a purgatorial experience in preparation for the afterlife. The island experience was real, after all. It was so real, in fact, that it seemed to be the most important experience of conversion and redemption in all our castaways' lives.

Characters like Jack, Locke, Sawyer, Kate, and Hurley came to the island alone, isolated in their airplane seats, minding their own business - as most of us do every day of our lives. Before the crash of Ocean 815, these men and women were in need of healing, forgiveness, and penence - not unlike each one of us in the real world.

But for most everyone, the island had a significant impact on their lives. Without the distraction of the anxieties of everyday life, the castaways were allowed to retreat and reflect inwardly. With the other men and women that crashed and survived, these people were able to find out what real community and real relationships were all about: love, sacrifice, and peacefulness. And through those connections and through life-changing experiences on the island, they achieved some much-needed redemption for the sins of the past.

This sixth season, however, gave us a new perspective from which to view these events. In the afterlife, in this purgatorial time after our death, the castaways had to tap into the most important thing that ever happened to them while alive to unlock the door of paradise. And (surprise!), for most of them, it was their island experiences that made the difference.

Throughout this past season and these afterlife moments, when each character felt true love, a warm touch, or an incredible joy, it brought to mind what made their lives so special. They, like Jesus on the cross, were able to say, "Lord, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk. 23:46). Recognizing their redemption was the "ticket" into heaven.

In addition to putting to rest many of my lingering questions, the LOST finale also made me reflect on what mattered the most to me. Did you feel the same way, too?

When in my life was I welcomed home like the lost son in Luke 15 (or like Jack and his dad in the finale)? Where did I feel the redemptive power of forgiveness, healing, and love - from God and from others in my life? If I were in LOST, what scenes would flash before my eyes when I surrendered and commended my spirit... when I saw how God graced me over and over again?

But the finale also challenged me to examine my own sinfulness. I recall Ben Linus in this episode, who realizes that he must sit outside the gates of paradise for a little while longer. Ben has spent much of his life lusting after power and control - and, if necessary, hurting others to selfishly get his way. Recently in the sixth season, Ben has begun his process of redemption. In fact, when Hurley asks an improving Ben to be his #2 on the island, I couldn't help but recall the father of the prodigal son who looks at his "other" son and accepts him into the fold, too. Perhaps beyond the island events of this episode, Ben will continue his redemptive arc. But LOST reminds us that sin must still be accounted for... Ben must wait a little while longer to enter the gates - but the invitation is his for the taking (thanks, once again, to Hurley).

Speaking of Hurley, I was pleased to see that the island was handed over to him in the end. Hugo has been the most compassionate, nonviolent, selfless, and loving castaway. Most people thought of him as comic relief, leaving the hero stuff to Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. But it was none of those people to whom the island would ultimately go. His rise to island protector reminds me to never disregard those I might consider the least among us... for it is from those people, Christ tells us, that true leadership comes. "What the builders rejected has become the cornerstone" (Mt. 21:42). Who are the Hurleys in your life?

Finally, the finale challenged me to see how I might be like Jack - who died to protect the people he loved (his fellow castaways) and especially the people he did not even know (the world 'across the sea' where the evil smoke monster might destroy others' lives). It challenged me to act with social justice for the people I may never see or who may never know I did anything for them. In a sense, the people 'across the sea' never knew what Jack did to save them from harm. So how might I work at feeding the hungry, removing oppression from those abused, and serving the marginalized and unloved members of society? How can I sacrifice on their behalf?

These are just a few of the thoughts that I have taken away from LOST. There are many others that are creeping into my mind, my heart, and my prayers this week. LOST has given me much to dwell on and contemplate - heaven, conversion moments, community, sinfulness, leadership, and self-sacrificing for justice.

What about you? Where has LOST taken you? What might God be telling you, challenging you, or reminding you about? Feel free to share...

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