I for one, was seriously anticipating the theatre release of the 2015 version of The Little Prince when in the week it was to debut, the movie was completely dropped from the lineup. Then it was scooped up by a streaming or some other online service. BUMMER. I really wanted to see this version on a big screen. In this version, the pilot tells the story years after having returned home, and in a more modern setting, to the neighbor girl. His young neighbor is a highly scheduled child with an extreme helicopter mother who has her daughter’s future completely figured out.
Around it’s the release, the bookstore stocked the movie related products…books with the movie illustrations, puzzles, a coloring book even. Confession time…I grew up hearing this story. In French. It’s my absolute favorite children’s story. But I think everyone should read it. The things the Little Prince learns while visiting Earth, and on his way here, are lessons adults would do well to remember. Lessons about what is truly important in life…not the data, the power, the busyness.
At the heart of the story, the lesson the Little Prince learns from the Fox is probably the most important one, and I found this lesson creeping into other discussions this spring. I know this story does nothing for some people. I don’t understand why, but I know it doesn’t speak to everyone. BUT…if you can’t make it through all 100ish pages, just read Chapter 21, it’s the story of his meeting and befriending the Fox.
I’m not going to repeat the whole chapter here…go take the 5 minutes to read it…go…now.
For the Fox to be the Little Prince’s friend, they have to tame each other, because “One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. And if we want to have a friend, we must tame one another. This takes time and patience.
When it is time for the Little Prince to move on, he is crushed that his departure will make the Fox sad and cry, and doesn’t understand the value of having tamed the Fox. That is until the Fox explains to him that now they are not just an ordinary boy or fox to each other, they are special.
In having tamed each other, the Little Prince finally understood what made his ordinary rose actually “…unique in all the world.” It is the time the Little Prince has “…wasted…” for his rose that makes his rose so important. And so he learns that “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
And so this lesson found its way into a discussion about service. Not just service in terms of big, grand projects, but service in those small, mundane ways. Actions that may start as “service” but that turn into “taming” each other, bonding us one to the other. Service that tames us and makes us responsible to each other…forever.
Several weeks later, an evening service ended with the hymn commonly known as “The Servant Song” which hits the theme of being responsible for each other. Phrases like “Will you let me be your servant”, “we are here to help each other”, “I will hold the Christ light for you in the night time of your fear”, “I will weep when you are weeping”, and “I will share your joy and sorrow” all speak to taming each other, to being responsible for each other…to friendship.
In friendships, we tame each other and become responsible for each other forever. Not every friendship we have will be at the same level, the same depth; but how do we cultivate the friendships we have and cultivate new ones? How do we serve each other, even in small ways, sometimes by just being there…thus establishing bonds that tie us one to the other? Do we allow ourselves to be tamed, to be understood and known? Is there someone you know who needs or wants to be tamed, who needs a friend?