I enjoy the movie theater. I didn’t get much experience as a child, but I got to enjoy it more as an adult. This past year, it became one of my favorite places. I enjoy the anticipation that is built in knowing a movie is coming months or even years in advance. Finally, the day arrives.  The ticket is in hand (or on my phone).  I meet up with friends who share this delight. We find our seats, enjoy the previews (or not), and then the lights dim. Perhaps the screen expands.  And what happens next is nothing short of magical.

The Luxo lamp bounds across the screen to the Pixar logo.  I am about to see another storytelling masterpiece called Inside Out. I laugh at the amazingly clever humor.  I weep at the brokenness of a child. I am swept away in emotion by a movie about emotions.

The 20th Century Fox fanfare begins, but it is almost immediately enhanced.  A single piano crescendos over the typical brass and strings. And as the camera pans down, I find the Peanuts’ character Schroeder is the amazing culprit.  The smile it puts on my face doesn’t go away the entire movie as I am smitten with the plight of good ol’ Charlie Brown and his wishy washy pursuit of a little red-headed girl, with his faithful dog whose imagination owns the screen. They couldn’t have done it better.

The room is packed and the credits never seem to end.  Then, the Lucasfilm logo appears and no one can hold it back anymore.  They cheer.  And we’re taken through a blast of horns to a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away to witness a seventh episode of Star Wars. Incredibly fun, adventurous, and magically mythical. As I witness a young scavenger girl called out by the Force begin to believe and embrace that calling, igniting a lightsaber, chills run down my spine.  As she scales never-ending steps on this beautiful island to find a long lost Jedi, my breath is taken away by the sanctity of the moment.

As I shared with campers this past summer, the theater is a sanctuary for me.  That may sound sacrilegious, but that may be because the foremost meaning of sanctuary is a sacred or holy place, the auditorium of a church, etc.  But a sanctuary is also a place of refuge or asylum.  The theater is a place where I am separated from normal life with one express purpose – to be told a story. It is a place of rest when one is told well, perhaps even a place that becomes holy to me when I see God’s truths break through the story and the characters.  Perhaps to some degree, I return to my world a different man than before, with new thoughts and dreams and treasures won from the journey.

So check out that film, buy some popcorn, and experience a story.  Maybe like me, you return with more than a ticket stub.

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