I'm happy to share some thoughts with you from a friend of mine, Julia Martyn, as she reflects on the themes that resonated with her as she watched the movie, Encanto.
In the movie Encanto, we encounter the question, “Can your gifts overshadow the gift of your presence?” The magical members of the Madrigal family are praised for what they offer to the community. But it takes the loving eyes of a sister to recognize the gift of each member’s beautiful humanity.
As an enneagram 1, I relate most to the perfect older sister, Isabela. In her song, “What else can I do?”, she sings herself out of the box she put herself in. Like Elsa, she lets go of her perfect image. She leaves the perfect girl behind and embraces the beauty in expressing her full range of emotions.
Louisa’s gift feels to her like a burden. Because of her tendency to overwork, she carries the burden of everyone’s weight on her back. She’s better than Amazon, meeting every townsperson’s needs. But she realizes she doesn’t need to carry the weight of her whole family on her shoulders. When she loses her strength, she cries. But soon she sees she is of value even without her superpower. If we let go of the myths of perfection and performance, might we be better able to love ourselves and others?
I relate to Abuela because in trying to protect a precious miracle, she actually harms it. The miracle is entrusted to her family, of which she is the matriarch. But she doesn’t realize that. So like Abuela, I want to pretend I don’t see the cracks or the signs of weakening powers around me, but I realize that my willful blindness is actually the problem. I can humbly recognize my role in things and stop blaming others.
Mirabel helps Abuela to finally realize that she couldn’t even see her family members beyond what they and their gifts provided to the family. That is how God sees us, as frail humans and yet he blesses us to be a blessing to others, like he did the nation of Israel.
In the final song, we know that we might be frail, but we ourselves are the miracle. When we allow all of ourselves to be seen and loved, we can share that freedom with others, rather than bringing them into the enslaving work ethic we have. Then we can love all of each other, not just what a person can do for us. We can love another person even in their frailty. Because Jesus knows what being a human is like. We have a God who understands and loves all of us anyway.
So next time you watch Encanto, while you belt out the tunes, remember that your authentic presence is the best contribution you could make to your community.