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‘Lost’ in love

This week’s Lost episode, The Constant, was one of the best I’ve seen from this series. Not only was the show saturated with new information (and new questions), but all was revealed in an good story that had much to say about life and love and what keeps us grounded in both. (Be warned, there be spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the episode.)

Sayid and Desmond finally reach the boat—but Desmond is suffering some “side effects” from the trip. He finds himself back in 1996, but keeps flipping back and forth between the past and the present (or at least, it’s probably the present—with all the play with time, I’m not sure anymore); Desmond experiences both the past and present as reality here-and-now. The present-day Daniel Faraday (a physicist) tells Desmond to find his past self (who’s experimenting with time-travel via the consciousness). The past-Faraday tells Desmond that he probably won’t survive the time switching unless he finds “a constant”—something that is in both the past and future that he will recognize, that will be his anchor. Desmond immediately knows what his constant is: Penny, whom he deeply loves and (at least in the present) whom deeply loves him as well. Desmond must surmount several hurdles before his time runs out (from their estrangement in his past-present to broken communications equipment in the present-present), but the last scene shows just how worth it all is.

One of the things I really like about this episode is its portrayal of the role of trust in love. I truly appreciated how Sayid remains loyal to Desmond even though Desmond can’t remember him (or the last eight years). It shows the depth of the relationship (and trust) these islanders have formed. Penny, in spite of her wounds from Desmond’s choice to join the military instead of stay with her, takes one reluctant, small step of faith in Desmond and his love for her that bears unbelievable fruit eight years later. Those steps of faith, those relationships are what make the difference in the end.

And that wonderfully echoes something which we all experience. I think James McGrath captures it perfectly:
The symbolism of the episode is powerful. We all feel unstuck in time and space, and we all need an anchor, a constant. Our constant can be a person - indeed, it is hard to see how anything could anchor us in the way the love of another human being can.
How true—in both the small and big ways. A friend of mine, a wonderful writer and thinker, recently reflected after her husband returned from a trip how she’d forgotten how much he kept her grounded in reality. I’ve heard husbands say the same of their wives. Like McGrath says, we all have tendencies to “feel unstuck in time and space.” Loving another draws us out of ourselves and focuses on another. Being loved grounds us. Indeed, love tethers us to the here-and-now.

The idea of the love of another anchoring us is also a good image when it comes to Kingdom-living. Both being loved and loving each other are tight cords that secure us—to each other, to the reality of the Kingdom and ultimately to God. This kind of love helps to keep us living in the reality of God’s Kingdom, presence and love even as everything around us screams otherwise. We are the reminders and encouragers. We are the hands and arms of Jesus. In the tides and storms of a broken world, this anchoring is a gift beyond measure.

Ultimately, the constant or anchor we find in the love between us is an expression of the definitive constant we find in God. Scot McKnight points out that Jesus’ summary of the all the commands covers love in different directions: God, others and self. In the end, our constant is God, but he’s designed it so that his Love is inexorably interwoven with us and those around us. And that Love draws and ultimately anchors others to God and his Kingdom.

And really, that can make all the difference in the end.

(One last note: I hope Peter Chattaway caught this episode because I’d love to hear what he thinks in regards to his interest in the whole memory, time and identity aspect of stories.)

For more on Lost from this blog, go here, here and here.

(Images: ABC via lostctgy