5 02 2022

My 4-year-old granddaughter Lucia had been begging me for weeks to watch the new Disney Movie, “Encanto.” She has recently moved to Florida with my daughter Leah, my son-in-law Jeff and her twin sisters, Adelina and Claire. It is a sad season for me because just a few months ago, we would have been able to watch this film together. Of course, if we did end up going to the Movie Theater, I would have missed a good chunk of it because I would be taking my obligatory nap. Once they turn the lights out, and I sit in those soft seats, it is so hard for me to keep my eyes open! I guess I could be happy that I saved a bundle from the concession stand purchases. When did popcorn become as costly as solid gold? But now with Luci so far away, that date didn’t happen. She saw it without me, and I finally viewed it from my recliner at home.

“Encanto” is all about the Madrigal Family who are quite the extraordinary bunch. Under the leadership of the matriarch Abuela Alma, all of them live together in the magical and miraculous “casita” which is nestled in the mountains of Columbia. We learn early from Alma’s granddaughter Mirabel through song that each member of the family has been given a supernatural gift received by entering via a door with their name on it. These talents range from superhuman strength, unbelievable hearing, the power of healing touch, the ability to talk with the animals, insight into seeing the future and controlling the weather. There is the obligatory Disney Princess named Isabela who is practically perfect in every way and can make flowers grow out of nothing. Isa is my Granddaughter’s favorite. She is not exactly the kindest soul of the household, but she has a sassy spirit and desires a depth that she knows is missing and comes around to be a gamechanger in the end.

Mirabel has no gift. When Mirabel’s time came to receive her miracle, she missed out on the bounty. Mirabel is just your every day teenager trying to make a difference in a world that often overlooks those who work hard, show lots of heart and is kind to everyone no matter what they can or cannot do. Mirabel knows that something is amiss in the world of the Madrigals. The magic is slowly being drained from the home they dwell in and while Abuela Alma refuses to deal with reality, Mirabel will not stand idly by while her relatives begin to fall apart.

If this society needs anything right now, it starves for those men and women and children who will stay true to who God made them to be. From the time we enter this world, it seems everyone wants to critique us, change us, improve us, refine us and eventually put us into our place. Instead of championing what we can do well, we are labeled by our disabilities and our shortcomings. I believe with all my heart that one of the dirtiest words in our dictionary is “compare.” God made each and every one of us something special and we long to ditch that identity so we can blend in with everyone else and by doing so we disappear. Mirabel never disappears. As a matter of fact, she is the only one of the lineage who looks for Bruno who did check out because he became so petrified of using his favor wrong, he never even gave himself the opportunity to get it right. There is a catchy song in “Encanto” that I can’t get out of my mind. Its lyrics boast, “We don’t talk about Bruno, no, no, no!”

Is there a Bruno in your family? Someone who didn’t measure up. Someone who got left behind in the dust. Someone who got written off as dead while there was still a heartbeat. I have felt like Bruno. There have been times I tried so hard to make my family happy, I only set myself up for one disappointment after another because it was never enough. I didn’t do it the right way. I didn’t do it their way. I found myself cheering for Bruno who was still hungering for love and affection even though on the outside he portrayed himself as a hermit. Things are not always as they seem. Maybe we should stop talking about Bruno and do what Mirabel had the courage to do. She talked to Bruno.

The house does fall apart, and everyone cracks under the pressure that has been put upon every member of the family. We discover that Abuela Alma has put more emphasis on what her offspring can do rather than who they are. We also see the danger of favoritism and how damaging loving one child over another can cause. Kids aren’t stupid. And stop using the resilient card because we all need to be loved. We all need to know that we matter and would be missed if we were not present at the dinner table. One of the things that I know God has given me a sensitivity to is when people feel left out, bullied, intimidated and forgotten. Like Jesus did for me, I seem to rally around the underdog because I was that person who almost kissed it all goodbye because I wasn’t feeling the love from the sources that it was supposed to be supplied from. God literally saved my life. I know my miracle was God wanting me when nobody else would or could. Never underestimate the power of love.

I am a living “spoiler alert.” You don’t want to sit next to me at a show because I will talk your ear off about what I perceive is happening on the stage. After I read a great book, I want to shout it to everyone I know not only how good it was but how it ends. I hope I haven’t ruined “Encanto” for you. But I am grateful for a granddaughter who knew that her Pop Pop would love it. I wish life was a musical. I have been known to break out in song just about anywhere I am. But let me close with more lyrics. I love the message of the song, “All of You.”

“But the stars don’t shine, they burn. And the constellations shift. I think it’s time you learn. You’re more than just your gift.”         

You are loved not because of what you do but because of who you are!  



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