Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

I just came back from catching tonight's latest showing of "The Secret Life of Bees" starring Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Sophia Okonedo, and Dakota Fanning. I still feel a fullness in my heart that extended beyond the movie screen.

It was a rather impromptu date with my husband, the rare late Saturday when we are not in our respective worlds with obligations and kids. I was really very tired and almost ready to go to bed when he asked me if I wanted to catch the 9:45pm show. My body pulled itself from the cocoon of my Mitchell Gold chair and warm, red blanket. The milk chocolate of my calf boots seemed to pull themselves on my feet for I was too exhausted to go through the motions, it had been a long day. I wrapped myself in the sweater-softness of a pashmina he brought back from Harlem, hoping I wouldn't fall asleep in the theatre.

The movie transported me back to a time and a place that only existed somewhere in my soul. I was born in 1964, the year the movie was set. Like the character played by Dakota, I, too, lost my mother at age 4, only, it wasn't my hands that caused her death. I felt a beating in my heart as she struggled with the feelings of loss, anger, and frustration growing up without her. The backdrop and understory of the voting rights movement and the unspoken pain of May Boatwright, the character played by Sophie, sprang like soft melodies in heart, keeping time to a rhythm that was changing. Lily, like me, is a writer, although she didn't know this at the beginning of the movie, it wasn't until Neil, played by Nate Parker, gave her the precious gift of a journal and the mirror of May's written prayers, that she seemed to understand the power of pen to paper to free the soul, release the hurt, heal the heart, and offer love and hope to humanity.

I sat in that theatre, fully absorbed in their lives, each one, loving, mothering, bonding, nurturing. I wanted to be there, in that kitchen with May singing and making pancakes in a letter A. May's innocent and deeply spiritual understanding reminded me of the prayers my Grandmother carried in her heart and on her knees at The Rock Church. In watching them, there was a part of me that wanted to go to the NAACP meeting with June and claim a freedom that only unmarried women can possess. I thought about the magic of first love and remembered that feeling, that tugging. August and her motherly wisdom and understanding invited me to a place I have only dreamed about. Watching her, it gave permission to all the dreams I still had and the possibilities that still exist. Rosaleen, played by Jennifer Hudson, later dubbed "July" promised a hope of redemption just by changing venue and finding one's true calling. I couldn't leave the theatre, even to the last credits, it was that moving, that powerful.

The book by Sue Monk Kidd, I hear, is exactly like the movie. Will and Jada Pinkett Smith scored a winner again. Time, the campaign, and my own works would not allow me to read it before tonight. That will be my only regret of the evening. I will eventually get it, put it on my bookshelf, read it at a future date, and think about the many women who have mothered me, nurtured me to my dreams, and given me permission to live.

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