January 19, 2021
I had just finished a two-hour class on theology/metaphysics at Unity Institute & Seminary.
The iPhone I had was the first one to include Apple’s electronic marvel, Siri. You can ask Siri, “Where is the nearest Pizza Hut?” Or “In what year did the Boston Red Sox wind up winning more total number of World Series than the New York Yankees?” (That’s a trick question.) And Siri finds the answer for you.
I asked Siri, “What is the meaning of life?” And, I kid you not, Siri answered, “The meaning of life is chocolate sauce.”
An even more interesting question is: “Whoever expected Disney/Pixar to produce a computer-animated movie that provides an excellent response to this question?”
The movie in question is ‘Soul’. Because of the pandemic, it is not in movie theaters. Instead, it is being streamed on Disney+. I think the pandemic is really rushing along several trends that might have taken ten years to accomplish in “normal” times. Actually, I am beginning to think that “normal” is only a cycle on our washing machines.
I hope you have watched the movie or will do so in the near future. The bonus features give additional depth the the movie.
The central character in ‘Soul’ is Joe Gardner, an African-American middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t gone the way he expected. His true love and passion is jazz. Although he is a good musician and composer, chances never seem to come his way.
Amazingly, he gets the opportunity to play the piano with a top-flight jazz combo in one of the city’s leading clubs. Just when it seems that his life is taking off, he steps in an open manhole and dies.
Joe (voiced by Jamie Foxx) winds up in another realm. Instead of being sent to the great beyond, he is tapped to be a mentor/teacher to a soul by the name of 22 (voiced by Tina Fey). 22, to say the least, is a difficult character. 22 does not want to be born on earth or do anything.
So Joe tries to help 22 find a passion similar to his passion for jazz. I don’t want to give a lot of spoilers, but he can’t help 22 find a passion.
Then Joe has a big epiphany: Yes, it is great to have a passion such as wanting to make great music. But ultimately our meaning comes from the mere fact that we exist and that we can be one with ultimate reality (and ultimate reality can be defined in so many different ways). When Joe realizes this, he feels a connection and a peace that he has never felt before.
Let me tie this into a wonderful experience, and opportunity, that I have been having. I have had the joy and blessing to work every month on spiritual direction with Rev. Robert Brumet. Many people think of Rev. Robert as being like the Yoda of the Unity movement. His most famous book is Finding Yourself in Transition.
One time, Rev. Robert reminded me of what God said when Jesus was baptized by John: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
“Well, at that point Jesus hadn’t really done anything. He hadn’t given great sermons, healed people, or done miracles. And yet God said that about him,” he pointed out.
“Look at your new grandson, Rick. Technically all that little Joey is doing is messing his diapers, crying, eating, and occasionally smiling. And yet your family are treating little Joey like he is the most wonderful thing on the face of the earth—and that’s because he is to you guys. He just is,” he added.
It is great to have a passion. I am so grateful to be able to put whatever talents I have in the service of Spirit and Spirit’s way. In terms of meaning, knowing that we are one with the One – like little Joey or Jesus at the time of his baptism – is the “pearl of great price.”
God told Moses that his name was “I Am Who I Am. Tell them I Am sent you.” We are who we are – and one with this ultimate reality. Knowing this is even better than chocolate sauce.