Downton Abbey 2: Saying Goodbye

It feels weird. I had known it was coming for weeks, yet I still wasn’t prepared for it. Seeing the final scene of Highclere Castle fading into black made it real– Downton Abbey is over.

By the way, there will be spoilers ahead, so stop here if you haven’t made it to the last episode. You won’t hurt my feelings in the least.

I loved seeing all the intricate stories woven together and how these very well-written characters learned to deal with all sorts of tragedies and triumphs, setbacks and celebrations, sorrows and joys.

I loved how the character of Tom Branson blossomed from a mere chauffeur who felt like a supporting character in the background into a fully-developed major player who always fought for the underdog and came to be one of my favorites, if not my very favorite.

Even that dastardly Thomas Barrow came to have some redeeming qualities after all. We left him with his New Year’s resolutions to become a better and nicer person in the future. I like to believe he made good on those promises.

Thankfully, no one died in the finale. Lady Edith finally got her moment of happiness and found true love. Lady Mary will be having another baby at some point and life will continue to go on at Downton Abbey, just not on NPT on Sundays at 8pm CST.

I love how the themes of family and truth remained the focus of the series. Lady Edith chose to be truthful about Marigold at the potential cost of her happiness. I love even more how her decision paid off in dividends for both her and the Crawley family.

It will be surreal seeing the actors in other roles. After six years and so many episodes, I will always associate them with their Downton Abbey characters.

Thank you, Julian Fellowes, for creating such a beautiful glimpse into a bygone world filled with such fascinating and many-faceted characters. I hope to see more of your characters at some point in the future.

 

My First Ever Mac Blog

Well, the day has finally arrived. I am typing my 2,001st blog, the first I’ve written using my newly-acquired, refurbished Mac Book Pro. I feel so hipster right now.

It took a long time to save up enough money, but I kept at it. Actually, I almost had the money a couple of other times, but other expenses kept me from getting it. But I persevered. As I’m learning, a little bit of patience in all matters goes a long, long way.

I promise not to turn into an anti-PC snob. I still have to use one at work. I hope that my blogs will get better (or at least more artsier) with this new contraption.

In other news, I finally saw the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise in IMAX 3D. It was ridiculously overpriced, but I do recommend possibly going to see it on the big screen. The movie itself is better than the prequels, but not quite as good as the original three (maybe better than Return of the Jedi).

If any movie needs to be seen in grand 3D-style, it’s Star Wars. Maybe try to get in to a matinee showing or some other day other than Friday or Saturday.

I won’t be like so many who have been leaking spoilers from the movie all over the place. I’ll just say it was great seeing just about all the old faces from the first trilogy as well as some new faces that give me new hope for the Star Wars movies to follow.

One spoiler alert: at the end, the screen goes black and the credits roll. FYI.

That wraps up my Saturday. I slept late and took a nap, so life is good. Hopefully, Sunday will be just as varied and entertaining.

The end.

 

 

When You Know the Ending

I’ve mentioned it before (I think) that I have a few books that I like to re-read every year. One of those is The Lord of the Rings, which is actually one novel with three parts and not a trilogy of novels as is commonly believed these days– but I digress.

You might think that for me to already know the outcome would diminish my enjoyment of this book. Actually, it’s quite the opposite.

For me, knowing the end makes some of the darker parts of the book more bearable. Knowing that Frodo and his faithful Samwise will come out alright in the end (spoiler alert) helps me through some of the passages when it seems that all will be lost.

It’s like that when I read the Bible. If you look at the metanarrative of the Bible story and keep the ending in mind, it makes some of the Old Testament passages (particularly Judges and the majority of the writings of the prophets) easier to stomach. Knowing that the Messiah is soon to arrive helps me get through all the apostasy and idolatry of the people called out by God.

In my own story, there have been many times when I’ve had to remind myself of the happy ending that awaits me. I am no different than most of you who have gone through dark and difficult chapters where the villain seems to be winning and hope seems all but lost. Sometimes, you think that if your life were a novel, it would be either a black comedy or a dark tragedy with no chance of a redemptive ending.

But the ending has already been written. God wins. Love does actually win in the truest sense. Not the warm fuzzy kind of love that comes with butterflies in your stomach, but the kind that lays down its life for a friend. That’s the love that wins in the end.

Everything good about this life will be redeemed. All the evil will be undone and all the lies exposed and banished forever. All the best parts of your deepest longings and dreams will be fully realized.

You are allowed to skip ahead and read the last chapter, Revelation 22. It’s my favorite ending of all time.

 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

voyage

“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are -are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there” (C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader).

I’m now almost done with my favorite of all the Narnia books– The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That means only two more to go after this one.

There’s so much to like in this book, but the best part is toward the end when they’re getting close to the end of the world, beyond which lies Aslan’s country. Spoiler alert.

The book reminds me that at some point, we have to say goodbye to the ones we love. That’s hard. But the key is in the perspective. That is, you focus on the time you had and the memories you made instead of the loss. Plus, God never takes anything away without giving something better in return. Usually, that something is God Himself. But I digress.

Even though I read these books through every year and I know I’ll read them again at some point in 2016, it still makes me a bit sad knowing that I’m nearing the end of these books.

I think my favorite character is that noble mouse Reepicheep. He’s the smallest of them all, yet he’s also the bravest and most daring. He’s the one who wants to head into the darkness and stay at Ramandu’s table for the adventure of it.

But I like Lucy, too. After all, I did name my cat after her.

 

I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found

image

I just finished watching the last episode of Lost.

I know. I’m about four years behind the rest of you who saw the series finale when it aired way back in 2010. But what can I say? I like to wait until TV shows are over so I can watch them in their entirety at my leisure. Or I can cram a whole season into a weekend. It all depemds on my mood.

I had heard that the ending of Lost was unsatisfying for many and left a lot of unanswered questions. I didn’t find that to be true for me. I loved the ending. And don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it.

Well, I changed my mind. So sue me.

Don’t read any further if you don’t want to know how the show ends. Go make some popcorn or go take a restroom break.

I love the way they were all reunited at the end. I especially love how it took place in a beautiful church building. I don’t care if they were all dead and ghosts or whatever. It gave me a good picture of what heaven will be like. Especially with how they brought back all the characters they had killed off in previous episodes.

Ok. You out there who didn’t want to know about the series finale can start reading again. No more spoiler alerts. Or spoilers.

I love a good story told well, whether the medium is a book or a movie or TV series. I love the satisfaction of having my expectations thwarted only to find the outcome was better than my predictions. God is like that.

Now I have to find the next TV series to get hooked on. I’m currently taking ideas and suggestions. Or I could just read a good book.

The Continuing Saga of Me Watching Downton Abbey

image

Yes. I admit it. I am addicted to Downton Abbey.

It’s a lot like Dark Shadows, except that everyone is English. And there are no vampires. Yet. But it does have that melodramatic soap opera feel to it sometimes. But the characters are so richly realized and the dialogue is (mostly) authentic and witty and moving.

To my count, they’ve already killed off at least five cast members. One more vanished mysteriously in the dead of night. And oh yeah, I should probably have thrown in a spoiler alert notice before I told you all that.

It makes me want to go back to the Biltmore Estate (which is the closest to a castle this side of the Pond). Either that or I win the freakin’ lottery so I can afford to go check out Highclere Castle in jolly ol’ England.

But more than anything, I really and truly cherish the honest portrayal in the relationships on the show. It makes me want to strive for that authenticity in my own relationships.

Most of all, a part of me likes to see the bad guy get what’s coming to him and see those who try to do right finally rewarded for all their efforts.

If I were to make a spiritual analogy, I’d say that I’m glad to know that in Jesus the bad guys do get their comeuppance and those good guys win in the end. I’d also say that none of us are really good on our own but the love of Jesus as displayed on the cross makes us so.

That is, if I were to make a spiritual analogy out of Downton Abbey.

Scars

I was watching Slumdog Millionaire tonight and the ending got me thinking. By the way, this is a spoiler alert, so if you haven’t already seen the movie and don’t want to know how it ends, don’t read any further.

Jamal, the main character, finds his true love, Nakita, at the train station. She’s trying to hide the scar on the side of her face, but he finds it anyway and gives her a kiss on the scar.

What a perfect picture of faith.

We all have scars we’re trying to hide. Some do a better job, so that you can’t tell they have any. Some don’t do as well because their scars are more obvious and less easily hidden.

We think God will be repulsed by our scars, by the bitter words we’ve spoken, by the horrendous things we’ve done, by the vile thoughts we’ve cherished from time to time. We’re sure that if he ever knew about those scars, he’d want nothing more to do with us. After all, haven’t so many people in our lives treated us that way? People we loved and trusted to be there for us always? They got one look at our scars and couldn’t get away from us fast enough.

I’m thankful every single day that God’s not like that. God seeks us out, and when he finds us, he gives us kisses of grace on our scars. He turns our scars into stories of transformation and amazing grace. Like I heard a pastor say, that one thing you never thought you’d ever confess to becomes the very first line of your testimony.

God appreciates scars because he’s got some of his own. Three to be exact. Two on his wrists and one in his side. They are reminders of the price he paid for you and me.

So maybe scars aren’t such a bad thing after all.