One of the joys of being a grandmother (and there are many) is the opportunity to go with our grandchildren to see full-length cartoon features. Without the grandchildren, most of us would not be buying a ticket, a bucket of popcorn, and a giant drink to see one.
On a recent visit to see our daughter and her children, I had the chance to do just that with our two youngest grandchildren. My biggest challenge usually is that I walk into a sequel with not much information of what came before the current feature. They share bits and pieces and I try to sort them out as the new film begins.
This time was no exception since we were seeing the third in a series about the legendary Kung Fu Panda, Po, a large lovable panda. For those of you out there who are experts on this series, please forgive any mistakes on my part in what I am about to share about Po.
You see, what I have often discovered is there can be powerful story lines and truths embedded within these full-length animated movies whether or not the pint-sized children seeing them catch that or not.
Long before “Kung Fu Panda 3”, it is clear that Po has had many adventures as a result of his great love of Kung Fu and its legendary heroes. He is living in the Valley of Peace seeking to perfect his training and skills among an assorted lot of other animals, none of whom are pandas such as he is.
In this particular film, it appears Po has learned a great deal, but his teacher is aware there is much more to learn if he is to become the expert he desires to be.
In the midst of the film, a stranger arrives in the valley that looks amazingly like Po. It takes Po a bit to discover the stranger is actually his father who has been searching for him after he disappeared from the panda village where he had been born.
Now Po must rediscover and learn what his identity has been all along. His adoptive father, a goose, cannot ever give him the identity he was born for. Little by little Po learns the natural skills of being a panda.
As the story moves along, Po goes back to the village where he was born and there he seeks to move from student to teacher as he tries to train a group of fun-loving clumsy pandas to become martial-arts fighters.
After he leaves his adoptive home in the Valley of Peace, an evil supernatural warrior comes to the valley seeking to destroy all those who live there. He nearly succeeds, but one escapes to the mountains to let Po know he is needed to fight this evil warrior who has this nasty habit of becoming stronger with each battle.
Po must face his fears and uncertainty to marshal his Kung Fu brethren and the panda village to save them all from certain destruction.
He receives a powerful piece of advice.
“If you only do what you know how to do, you’ll never be more than you are.”
How true is that of me, of you?
We were created for Eden, but we find ourselves in a very different world where we have lost a clear sense of who we really are. We compare ourselves with other human sorts and seek to emulate some of them, totally out of touch with our true identity as daughters and sons of a king, heirs to an everlasting kingdom.
In this world we are faced with supernatural evil. We too must learn how to fight for the freedom of others we love to save them as well as ourselves. Our training, at best, is sporadic and we are prone to only look at what we know how to do which is more often to shiver in the bushes in fear when we consider the power of the evil supernatural force that we face.
What we, like Po, must come to learn is the reality of our true identity and the warrior spirit that has been placed inside us to defeat the powers that seek to overtake us.