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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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To Bless The Space Between Us and Horton Hears a Who!

Book

To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings is the last book from John O’Donohue, the Irish poet and spiritual teacher who died in January. To read this book (or to listen to the audio version) is to be in the presence of a truly enthusiastic person. O’Donohue notes that a blessing breaks down the barriers between people. It changes the environment around us and opens new possibilities of connection, healing and transformation.

His blessings are divided into seven sections representing the major rhythms of the human journey: beginnings, desires, thresholds, homecomings, states of heart, callings and beyond endings. There are blessings for a new home, a birthday, a new parent, a friend on the arrival of an illness, grace before meals, meeting a stranger, marriage, citizenship, holidays, someone who did you wrong, the dying and much more.

In a magnificent closing essay titled “To Retrieve the Lost Art of Blessing,” O’Donohue posits that this gift is grounded in the belief that human kindness holds sway in the world and that beauty abounds. Blessing is a form of grace and an expression of an open and loving heart (Doubleday).

Movie

Horton Hears a Who! is a wonderful screen adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss children’s book. This movie does everything right as it delivers many ethical messages for children and adults alike about tolerance, compassion and service to all—no matter their size or perceived importance. The screenplay by Ken Daurio conveys all the snap, crackle and pop of Dr. Seuss’ inimitable dialogue and imaginative characters. The animation is by the same team that brought us Ice Age.

At the center of the story is Horton (marvelously voiced by Jim Carrey), an elephant who turns out to be one of the most lovable animal characters to show up in a children’s movie for many a moon. One day he hears a noise coming from a tiny speck of dust floating past him. Through patience and curiosity, Horton eventually learns that this little particle houses a city named Whoville inhabited by many tiny citizens led by the Mayor (a stellar voice performance by Steve Carell). Even though they can’t see each other and are in completely different and alien worlds, Horton and the Mayor establish a caring relationship based on trust and the spiritual practice of listening. Both need to convince the companions in their world that the other world exists—quite a challenge. Kangaroo (voiced by Carol Burnett), for example, thinks Horton is a bad influence on the children because he talks about things they can’t see or touch. She doesn’t want the kids to use their imaginations.

The scene where the people of Whoville try to make their presence known to Horton’s world by chanting “We are here” is one of the most moving moments we’ve experienced in a movie this year (20th Cenury Fox—G).


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December issue

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