The Force is Strong With Us

lightsaberThe Force has awakened.

Star Wars fans across the world have been waiting with much anticipation for the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. Director J.J. Abrams promises to bring back that old feeling of the original trilogy. There was something very simple but powerful about those films that wasn’t duplicated in the newer three movies (although I still loved them). We are all excited to see what J.J. Abrams has in store for us.

But I’ve often wondered, what is it about these movies that has taken the world by storm for so many years? These are not just great movies. They have become a cultural phenomenon that has been passed down over the last few generations and is now reaching a new set of future fans. You can imagine my excitement when I hear my preschool students express their eagerness to see the new film!

I think all fans can agree there is something about these movies that feel like home. I have very vivid memories of watching Star Wars with my sister when we were kids. We only owned a handful of VHS tapes and the Star Wars trilogy was one of them. So we watched it over and over…and over and over again. I recall when we were teenagers, we went with a group of friends to see The Phantom Menace. We were so excited. The whole audience clapped and cheered when the opening crawl came on the screen. The excitement continued in Attack of the Clones when Yoda went all Jedi on Count Dooku. For those two hours, every person in the movie theater was best friends. We had been waiting for so long for these stories to return to us. We all loved the same world and the same characters and that creates an unspoken bond between strangers.

These movies have a profound effect on us. Any time we hear that epic music play we can’t help but push our shoulders back, lift our chin up and take a deep breath – just feeling like we “could take on the whole Empire” ourselves. When we watch the movies for the 500th time, we still squeal with excitement when we see the opening crawl scroll up the screen. And you cheer every time you watch Luke blow up the Death Star. All these moments make us feel like a kid again watching it for the first time.

Then there are all the moments that take our breath away. Like that moment in A New Hope when Luke gazes at the two suns on his home planet of Tatooine. You can sense his struggle to break free from the life that had been chosen for him. He can sense a whole world past those two suns but is afraid he’ll never get there. This is the first moment when we feel sympathy for our main character. And when we see him lose his aunt and uncle in such a horrific way, we vow to walk with him every step of his new journey.

In The Empire Strikes Back, along with Luke, we mourn the loss of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Who could take his place? It couldn’t possibly be the little green being. Then we learn that “size matters not.” We find that Yoda was a great warrior and we are relieved to see that Luke can continue his training. Yoda tries to teach a frustrated Luke to lift his spaceship that is stuck. When Luke says he’ll try Yoda wisely replies, “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Admit it. You’ve said this to someone at least once.

Then in Return of the Jedi there is the epic battle between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. We realize this is not only a lightsaber duel between father and son but a battle between good and evil. “Will Luke turn to the dark side?” is the question we ponder as we watch. We are blown away when we see Darth Vader have a change of heart and tells Luke, “You were right about me.” There really was good in him after all this time. How quickly we became sad to see him die.

And then there is the idea of the Force, something that I believe resonates within us. In A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi describes the Force as “an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.” Perhaps this is what causes us to feel drawn to certain people – the ones you just magically click with like you’ve known them forever. Or maybe it’s how you know something is wrong with a friend or family member even though they’re miles away. Or it could explain why a hug or hand hold can help to heal your pain.

I don’t know about you but the Force runs strong in my family. My parents loved the movies, my sister and I loved it and now my little nephew (who may very well be born in the middle of the movie theater this weekend) will be the next to carry on the legacy of love and faithfulness to these stories and characters.

The Force may have awakened but I think it’s safe to say it was never really asleep within us and it is very much alive in the newest generation. We have all been waiting for this moment for a long, long time ever since we last set our eyes on the stars in that galaxy far, far away…