The Grace to be Seeen
James Cameron’s film Avatar is one of my favourite films of all time. Not just for its stunning graphics and design, but also for its deep themes around love.
The film recounts the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) a combat veteran who lost the use of his legs in war. He ventures to the planet Pandora where humans are colonizing the planet for the rare natural resource “unobtainium.” However, a local indigenous population stands in the way of humans.
(Spoilers ahead) I remember first seeing the “alleluia mountains.” They are these giant floating rock formations hovering a few kilometers off the ground. It all makes for a wonderful dream that i’m sure many viewers would not want to wake up from.
One particular idea that struck me in the movie was the notion of “seeing” the other person. In one sense for the Na’vi (the indigenous population) to see you simply means that they physically see you. In a more deeper sense, to see the other means to really “experience” the other, and see the world from their perspective. It seems to mean something more like “I see who you are really” and I “hold you as you are.”
This meaning became clear for me when Jake Sully who is on the verge of death is saved by his love Neyteri (Zoe Saldana), who holds the broken human in her arms, and says that “she sees him.”
The desire to be seen as we are seems to run so deep in all us. It is to be recognized not for what we have done or produced. It is a desire to be seen wholly and fully “worts and all.”
I believe this sight is offered to us in our spiritual life with the Lord. Our faith teaches that God loves each one of us unconditionally, not based on what we’ve produced or accomplished. This love reaches into our very identity splitting marrow from joint.
For me it is consoling to remember that this is the way God wants us to be with Him. Open and vulnerable – seen. What’s more, and even more exciting, I think God calls us to look at Him back in the same way. What a grace in relationship it is to see, and be seen.