Sunday, June 5, 2011

The First Picture Show

Howard Gary Anderson 001

About 14 years ago, we moved to Iowa City and lived on the edge of town with a creek running through our backyard. The fields beyond the borders of our yard appeared, at times, to extend all the way to the horizon where sunsets silenced us by their beauty. It was a precious season in our family when all four of our girls still lived at home, before that time when one by one they journeyed to distant worlds called “college.” It was a time when the washer and dryer droned on a daily basis. Our evenings were full to overflowing with homework and art projects and bedtime readings about Middle Earth. And our mornings were a flurry of back packs and quick searches for shoes before the bus came up the hill.

In that “rush hour” early one junior high morning, as she flew out the door, grasping her coat, backpack, and lunchbag in one hand and toast wrapped in a paper towel in her other hand, our daughter Kate hesitated just a moment, turned to me and said, “Mom, I had the weirdest dream last night. I dreamt that our house was surrounded by corn. I mean, surrounded, like pressed up against the windows.” And with that, she was off to catch the bus.

At the time, I was taking a fiction writing course at the University of Iowa, and I had a deadline for a new story in just a few days. The deadline so far had no accompanying story to submit. That morning, Kate’s words hung in the air, as vivid as apples hanging ripe and heavy in a tree, just waiting to be harvested. I drove the two youngest girls to the elementary school and came back home to a sink full of morning dishes and a laundry room full of yesterday’s dirty clothes. And, ignoring all, I wrote. What emerged over the next couple of days, just in time for my afternoon class, was a story about truth and a boy raised in a house surrounded by corn.

Last night, I had the privilege, no, make that the HONOR, of seeing that story on the big screen. Caught in the middle of the flurry that morning was our youngest daughter Hannah, then 8 years old. She heard Kate talk about the dream. And then, over the years, she grew up knowing the story about that amazing house and the little boy in it, indeed growing up with him. About a year and a half ago, as a film and animation major at Northwestern University, Hannah began translating those words first into a screenplay and then turning that script into visual images. She pitched her idea and won a grant to fund the film. She interviewed actors, she rented an old farmhouse to film, she built a model house and birds to animate, she stayed up for -–I can’t imagine how many --days and nights directing amidst rustling corn stalks, animating checkerboard pieces in the computer lab, and weaving together a story not about corn, but the manifestation of truth.

Last night, as she gave a short speech thanking the “Academy,” so to speak, I saw that imaginative little girl with two dark braids suddenly transformed into a confident smiling woman on the cusp of a great adventure. And this Momma is so proud.


jamie k said...

that's awesome karen! :)

Pam S. said...

That's so great. :)

WendyLou said...

Wow!! What an inspiring story!! To think that what we do everyday with our kids underfoot can actually impact them for good ;) A great encouragement to a Mama still hip deep in dirty dishes and laundry!!

mamakaren said...

Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly
than all that we ask or IMAGINE, to Him be glory... Ephesians 3.20