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Christmas, When God Bought the Zoo

There are few things I enjoy more than processing my early morning thoughts on a day not overly planned.  Maybe I am too self-absorbed?  However, these moments provide the luxury of thinking out loud (actually through my fingers) within the beautiful silence that come with each new day.  My wife is usually still in bed as I begin, but awake by the time I post, for I often have her proof my communication before going public.  She is my best critic and I should listen to her more often!

Each morning, I click on the coffee and turn off the alarm (sometimes this step provides a real “wake-up” call for my neighbors), then head out the driveway to retrieve the orange plastic wrapped treat we know as the Journal.  Most of its information I have already read on line, but the habit persists; although I must confess, I was somewhat overly stimulated and earlier in my retrieval the first few mornings after the election.

Immediately after reading the Journal, comes my progressive read through the Bible, followed by devotionals by Oswald Chambers and others.  From there and before heading to my computer, I retreat to my favorite place of prayer, in the fresh awe of my daily adventure with a God.  He is so intimate, yet beyond finding out; though now fully revealed in the Christ of Christmas.  So personal, that He faithfully meets with me each morning as we literally converse and reason together, even about political questions and the greater good!  Yet now 40 years into our conversation, He is never exhausted by my inquiries, nor offended by the range of my questions; and I am always stretched beyond my last visit in prayer.

Last evening we celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary with somewhat of a spending spree: a movie and a delicious seafood meal at Bonefish.  By comparison to some, we could be called fiscally conservative, a real fit for Clemmons!

This morning I continued to ponder the spiritual nuances that moved my wife and I to tears in what up front seemed only a silly movie, “We Bought a Zoo.”  Such a depiction of humanity: from the tragic loss of a spouse, the serendipity that comes from a fresh start, the giftedness and creativity that comes out of childhood trauma, and yes, even our deep affection for lesser species.

You see, in our fallen state we have created our own zoos, our own “enclosures.”  Cameron Crowe by use of subtle nuance illustrates this truth and many more.   Matt Damon and cast build a story around a deceased spouse who remarkably saw beyond her own life and made provision (circus money) for her husband’s dreams and others.  A young zoo keeper, whose team excels at their mission while of course challenging regulatory authority, finds her true love only after sacrificing her earliest years for a few threatened species, “caged” 9.2 miles from the nearest Target store!

A rebellious teenager is almost lost to traditional public education, after his artistic dark side is exposed by the painful and premature loss of his mother.  This redeemed talent soon provides the theme for re-launching the zoo and holds hope secure through the last hurdle of a potentially rained out opening day.  As always, romance and love wins in the end, kept alive throughout the movie by a darling kid sister and the puppy love of a preteen girl.

Why this movie at this season?  From a secular and more cynical perspective, Crowe understands market.  It’s Christmas, hearts are tender and hope is high!  Yet, possibly Christmas is a God thing, opening our cage doors each year to the possibilities held deep in our hearts by our Creator?  His gift was much more than circus money, and our possibilities are now unlimited.

Merry Christmas to the zoo!

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