Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Tiger Eyes Taught Me About Community

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Last weekend, the movie adaptation of Tiger Eyes aired on TV. Tiger Eyes has always been my favorite Judy Blume book. It's about Davey, a Jersey girl whose father is shot and killed one summer night. After the funeral, she moves along with her mom and younger brother to New Mexico to recover in the home of her very controlling aunt and uncle. Davey starts hanging out in a canyon to escape the dysfunction at her aunt's, and that's where she meets Wolf, a mysterious, slightly older guy. He becomes a friend and guide as she navigates her grief and gains confidence.

I didn't see this movie in the theater, so this was my first viewing, and I was very pleased. I'd say it's in my top five of beloved-book adaptations. Surprisingly, my favorite scene was one that wasn't in the book. Wolf, who's Native American, brings Davey to a tribal ceremony. During the party, one of the leaders brings him into the center of the bonfire circle. The tribe is aware that Wolf is facing the loss of a family member, and the leader tells him that he has everyone's support and is not alone. He puts a feather in Wolf's hair as a symbol of his life, to remind him that he is alive in the midst of his suffering. Then he lays hands on him and sings a blessing over him as everyone watches.

This scene deeply moved me. So often in our communities, we profess to be there for each other and even pray together, but I think there's something powerful about making a ceremony of that support. I'm not saying we should make a bonfire circle every time someone has a bad day, but maybe there are more present, earthy ways to express love and encouragement. I'm going to reflect on this. I also think we underestimate the power of physical support. Sometimes a simple hug or a pat on the back is more reassuring than a lot of good words. So many of us are constantly running a touch deficit, and it's not only the single people.

Have other fans seen the movie? Did you have some unexpected insights?

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