Encanto – Acceptance

If you’ve seen Encanto, then I’m sorry to do this to you, but “We don’t talk about Bruno no, no, no. We don’t talk about Brunnno!” If you haven’t seen the movie, then you aren’t currently participating in the sing a-long that just started with one of the movie’s more popular songs (here’s a link to the clip if you’re interested in joining us.)

Bruno, Mirabel’s mysterious uncle, was given the gift of foresight. He can go into a trance-like state and could see the future. Based on the aforementioned song, it seems like people treated Bruno as a local fortune teller. The villagers complain that Bruno told them their fish would die, they would grow a gut someday or lose their hair. These things do, in fact, come to pass. We’ve already discussed how Bruno informed Isabela she would have “the life of her dreams,” and how it sounded great but in reality was detrimental to her overall well-being. Bruno was truthful with all of his predictions. Unfortunately, sometimes people mistook normal speech for predictions. We hear about this during the song about Bruno.

Tia Pepa (the aunt who can control the weather), was getting married. She was, understandably, nervous and anxious on the big day. Bruno tried to joke with her that it looked like rain. Pepa took that to be some kind of prediction and loses her cool, bringing on a hurricane of rain and wind. We find out at the end of the movie that Bruno wasn’t making a prediction or telling the future, he was simply trying to help his sister express her emotions instead of bottling them all up inside. With this in mind, it could very well be that the things the villagers took for predictions were also simply observations that Bruno awkwardly made.

After Mirabel did not receive a traditional gift, Abuela asked Bruno to look into Mirabel’s future. He did and discovered a confusing scene. On the vision tablet, Mirabel was standing in front of the Casita, the family’s house. It was a little like those cards where if you tip it to the right, you see one picture. To the left, the light changes, revealing a different picture. In one view, the Casita is cracking and crumbling. But in the other, it’s whole. Bruno knows that Abuela will focus on the negative possibility due to her preoccupation with maintaining a facade of perfection and order about the family. Rather than risking Mirabel becoming an outsider as he feels he is becoming, Bruno destroys the vision tablet and leaves the Encanto.

Or does he? Bruno only wants to love and help his family. He finds himself unable to leave, and the Casita makes it easy for him to stay by providing an in-between the walls space for him to live. Once Bruno “leaves,” his name becomes taboo. Abuela will not allow it spoken and, as the song explains, “We don’t talk about Bruno.” Except then everyone goes on an sings an entire song about him! Clearly, there are unresolved issues about Bruno.

I’m sure it’s pretty obvious, but not talking about someone or something is usually not a healthy response to a situation. No family, no individual is perfect. We don’t always fit perfectly together but we would be incomplete if someone suddenly vanished. Families who have lost loved ones know what this feels like. New patterns of togetherness are slowly and often painfully formed. In the case of the Madrigal family, these new patterns of togetherness were not really created because they couldn’t talk about their feelings openly with one another. Luisa tells Mirabel that she overheard the adults whispering about Bruno. Camillo, Mirabel’s cousin, has a very skewed view of who his uncle was, claiming he was 7 feet tall when he’s actually the shortest of the triplets.

As we draw closer to the Feast of the Ascension, we find the Church preparing for a separation. After Jesus’ resurrection, he remained on the earth for 40 more days. He then ascended up to heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand. Jesus is leaving, but He’s not actually going. If you stretch the analogy and squint a little, Bruno does a similar thing. Jesus, in His infinite love for humanity, sends His Spirit to remain with us as well as provides us with a way to intimately experience His presence in the Eucharist. Bruno remains in the Casita, patching the cracks as best he is able and offering what help he can from between the walls.

The difference between those left behind is in the conversations they had. The Madrigal family talks about Bruno in whispers, side glances and assumptions. The disciples tell everyone they can who Jesus is and why He changed their lives. I know these two situations are not at all comparable, but the fruits are worth looking at. By suppressing conversations about Bruno, the family reaped negativity, fractured relationships and inaccurate assumptions about one another. The disciples, on the other hand, grew in their love for one another, for Jesus, and for those who came to encounter their message.

When we are having a problem with someone, it’s always better to talk about it. When we aren’t sure what happened in a situation, it’s always better to seek out those there and discover the truth of the matter. Our gift of language and communication is one of the most important tools we have to build our communities, large and small. Language only works if we use it well. Are there relationships in your life that could use some greater openness? Are you trying to discover new ways forward after a loss? Talk to those around you. Talk about what makes you happy, what makes you sad, how you like to communicate. Listen to the other person share about themselves. Don’t let issues important to you both go unspoken or unresolved. It may not happen overnight, in fact it probably won’t. Relationships take time and work. But both the Madrigal family and the disciples know that the community you nurture will be worth it.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Kinetic Sand and Future Plans

John received a box of kinetic sand last year from his generous godfather who neglects to read the age-appropriate labels on toys (we love you godfather! we just wait to play with your presents) =) Anyway, we waited to bring out this exciting gift until recently. The kids can play with it in a fairly appropriate manner without sand getting all over my house. If you aren’t familiar with kinetic sand, it is actually a pretty cool toy. Basically, it is fancy sand that sticks to itself like wet sand without all the negative qualities of wet sand. It is not actually wet and it doesn’t stick to anything except itself. It is perfect for molding, sculpting and squeezing. Excellent for inquisitive hands and growing minds and apparently moms who need a minute…or 15.

Super awesome stuff
Super awesome stuff

It is also, surprisingly, an effective, addictive and unintentional meditative tool. The box of sand is currently sitting on my kitchen counter and nearly every time I walk past it, I can’t help but reach out and run my fingers through it. The sand is soft and squishy, light and airy. It initially feels like wet sand but then floats off my fingers like I would imagine a cloud would feel. This sand is irresistible, I can’t help myself.

The other day I was in the kitchen and was running my hands through the sand. My mind was wandering, thinking about how cool this toy was and how much potential it has for creativity and expression. It was a very zen-like experience.

I was holding Clare at the time and starting thinking about how shapeless she is right now, like the sand. She has the potential to become anyone and do anything. All of my kids really are still in this fairly shapeless, formless state. They don’t have life-determining habits and are slowly figuring out their personalities and character traits. They can mold themselves into any number of persons. Or, more along the path I was thinking about, they are able to allow themselves to be molded into the person God designed them to be.

Interpretation of the formless voidWe all start like this, clay in the hands of the potter, kinetic sand in the hands of the child. The world started like this – a formless void that was without order until God spoke. God’s creative word brought form to the formless and order to the chaos. He will do the same to the lives of my children if they let Him. It is my job as their parent to help them realize God’s presence in their lives and to recognize the gifts He has given them.

One of the most special things I get to do as a mother is pray for my children. Something that has hugely influenced my parental prayer is the example of my own parents and how they prayed for me. I always had a nurturing spirit and my mom had a feeling God’s will was for me to become a wife and mother. So she started praying for my future spouse. How incredible is that?!? She was praying for Ben before she knew him. She didn’t know where he lived, who he was, what kind of child he was or what kind of man he would become. She prayed for him for years – she has been praying for him longer than she has actually known him. I can’t think of a more precious gift to give one’s son or daughter-in-law.

I don’t know what God’s plans are for my children. Perhaps they will be called to marriage. Perhaps John will be called to be a priest or brother. Maybe Rosie or Clare will have a religious vocation or be called to live a single life. Whatever God’s call, I want to be able to give them the gift of my prayers to help support and sustain them in their vocation in life.

To summarize this little post – kinetic sand is awesome. If you feel like you can’t get yourself into a zone to do some serious thinking, you should probably get some. If you need to find a way to turn off your brain for a few minutes, you should probably get some. I’m not saying that kinetic sand is going to solve the world’s problems, but I’m definitely keeping it on the counter, just in case.