If, like my family, you’re a fan of the Toy Story movies, you probably made a point of going to the theater last summer to see what Buzz and Woody’s third adventure would be. To think, perhaps, about what your own next adventure might be. For we have met these toys before, and they are us.
In this episode, Woody and the gang must escape from the evil daycare center where they have been donated as their owner, Andy, is getting ready to go off to college. After a number of perilous maneuvers, they find themselves headed into a furnace that will burn them to ashes. As each toy realizes their collective fate, riding down the river of trash toward those flames, they look with fear and sadness at each other and slowly join hands. If they are to go down, they are going down together.
I was so engrossed in the movie that this moment brought me to tears. No, it couldn’t be. This couldn’t really be the end of those valiant and spunky toys. And how silly, I thought as I stared at the screen, that I should be so moved by their situation. This was essentially a cartoon (albeit a masterfully animated one), and these were just toys. But as they joined hands, I had to look away. And in doing so, I missed the important moment, the moment we all look for in our own lives when we face our own version of the fiery furnace.
Of course. The Claw! It’s the claw, operated by the three green aliens, that saves the day. My astute daughter noticed that the aliens had disappeared from the group as it headed toward the flames. They had seen The Claw, the machine in the sky, and used it to lift the others out of danger.
Now, imagine Buzz Lightyear in a toga, head wreathed in laurel. “To infinity and beyond,” he cries in ancient Greek. For the convention used to save the toys in Toy Story 3 is a convention that has been with us for centuries. In the movie, it is the claw. In ancient Greek drama, it is known as “Deus ex machina,” God from a machine. And it worked for the Greeks then as it works for the toys now. When the characters are in peril and there seems no way out, a great power arrives to save them. The story ends, and the good people are safe.
I’ve had my Simeon announcement (see the previous post).
I’ve been through the triple flames of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Now, I want to know that I am safe.
I am looking for my claw.