We just came home from watching the newest Star Wars movie. No spoilers, but if you like the rest of the series, you won’t be disappointed with the last chapter of it.
I noticed before the trailers were even over that this was a bifurcated crowd; people like us who have grown up with Star Wars, and kids who weren’t even born when the first film came out. In fact, I realized on the way home that it’s possible that their parents might not have been old enough to go to the movies in 1977!
At its heart, the Star Wars movies, at least the plotlines, are all about identity. Who are we, and what part of our family story and lived experience will we choose to claim?
And in this season of Chanukah and Christmas and Kwanzaa; festivals of the light, we are reminded that the work of spiritual people is to bring light into the world. But how?
Star Wars: Skywalker suggests that even the elders have to wrestle with their identities. The saga is about the second generation, but woven into it are the stories of leaders who reflect on their choices, their secrets and their role in a world that has radically changed in their lifetimes. Who are we to be now? Generals at the frontlines? Sages to whom others come for advice? Change agents with much less to lose now than in our youth? Standard bearers for the old ways of life and the old battles? Just when we might have thought that we could continue living the way we have for years, the world presents new challenges, or at least old challenges with new options.
Our light sabers might have been relegated to the back of the closet long ago. We might not think that we would be called upon to fight the old evils seemingly made quaint by technology. It seems to me that we of the Star Wars generation are still trying to figure out our identity, believing that we should be bringers of the light, but not at all sure how to do it. We are no longer young enough to backflip ourselves out of danger. We know that the Dark Side has many faces; not only shiny black masks, but also the shining faces of our neighbors and friends, and occasionally, our own face in the mirror. We want to be optimistic about the future, but we no longer believe that just wishing will make it so.
And so, at the “gate of the year”, when we once again consider resolutions and new leaves and fresh starts, we are also faced by the same quandary we faced in 1977. Who are we, really? What is real about who we are and what mark we will make on the world? What can we dare to dream? And who are we called to be now, given what we have done and seen, given our successes and failures and hard won self-knowledge? What light will we bring?
(The special effects are awesome, too. But you knew that.)