I finally had the opportunity to watch “Bridge to Terabithia” in June, and.. it was such a refreshing movie.

It is all about a boy, Jess, who lives in a regular family. They don’t have a ton of money, the siblings don’t always get along, and they pretty much live in a routine. There is not really any joy in Jess’ life, and there is no reason he can think of for that to change.

Then a girl about his age moves in next door, and at first Jess tries to ignore her. After all, she’s a girl. This girl is named Leslie, and as it turns out, she is exactly the friend Jess needs. Leslie is full of life and joy, and she has these expectations in life that Jess cannot understand at first.

As Leslie and Jess’ friendship grows, she has such an influence on him. Leslie teaches him to imagine, to smile, and to laugh. She shows him how much fun life can be, that you don’t need money to have fun. The life in this little girl is amazing. She teaches Jess to open up, to go out of his way to help others and to work hard.

I guess some would argue that “Bridge to Terabithia” has some new age type stuff in it, that it is somewhat mystical [including the song performed by AnnaSophia Robb]. I don’t think this is an accurate picture though. It is very legalistic, because to think that is to take all the fun out of the movie. It is to miss the whole point of the movie, the very message that the Katherine Paterson wanted to get across when she wrote the book.

The spirit of this story is all about finding the freedom to smile and laugh in our work, to live with the freedom to dream and to imagine. It is about the freedom to have joy. The young boy in this story saw his life transform as his friend taught him what it meant to live and be a kid.

It is such a sweet story that can really teach us a lot about befriending and accepting others, and about life. We have to live with our eyes open or we’ll miss out on so much. If we go about our daily routines in a monotone way, we are going to miss the blessings God has for us and what He wants to teach us through our circumstances. We have to be open to learn that things are not always the way we think they ought to be, and that we are not always right.

I love the story of “Bridge to Terabithia” because of its sweet simplicity. When we reach out and befriend those who need us, not only are we changed, we also have the opportunity to change the other person’s life and the world. When we bring joy and imagination into our everyday lives, the mundane, monotonous chores and daily rituals suddenly take on a whole new light, and I so love how this is depicted in this movie.

The life, energy, and imagination of this story all really inspire me… I am reminded of the great dreams that God has for me, and how, if I keep my eyes shut tight and my arms down at my sides, I will miss it all. I have to live with my eyes open, pray with my arms open wide, and dream with an imagination. It’s the only way I can really be open to whatever God has planned for me, because if I don’t live in this way, I’ve got a one-track mind that is focused only on the tiny dreams that I can come up with on my own. There’s no room for the amazing, spectacular dreams that God has for me… until I choose to let go of my own. Then I can truly live and be open to all the possibilities that God is dreaming for my life.