The Little Prince: What is Essential?

Run. Rush. Work. Produce. Be busy. Be busy. Be busy. Be worthy. We spend so much of our time chasing this elusive worth that is found in being wanted, needed and valued. We spend so much of our time trying to be essential.But what is essential?

The Little Prince is a story about what is essential. And this story is a beautiful one. It isn’t one that I grew up with, but the whimsical trailer got my attention weeks ago and seeing it on the Netflix front page today drew me in and I found myself nursing a giant cup of tea and letting it engross me.

It’s amazing how much we’ve decided that growing up means forgetting the things of childhood. Often I feel foolish when I stop mid-sentence to stare at a sunset, because it feels like something beautiful and new and alive and… and surely an adult would not do this. As a 26 year old, I should have let go of that amazement before now. I should forget about the things of childhood and focus on what is essential.

There are two sides of this story. A stark contrast between the muddled, colourful house of the Aviator and the clean, crisp house of the mother and daughter. We meet the mother & daughter first and it’s quickly seen that there is no father present, and the mother dearly loves her child… and she has a plan. She has a plan to make her daughter into a great grown up. There isn’t colour, but there is a plan. There are goals – oh my, there are goals. These are essential.

Conversely, the Aviator – an old man who lives next door – is a messy sort of madman with a plane in his backyard and images scrawled on paper with a haphazard story told beside them. He’s ignored and an object of disdain. He is creative and kooky and definitely not essential.

But as we see our brave, bewildered protagonist – the little girl – step over the boundary line from what is essential to what is not, we learn something of what is essential, and without giving any spoilers, we see that beauty and creativity and delight are essential. We see that life cannot be a pragmatic series of plans.

I’ve often been drawn to the words “the heavens declare the glory of God” when staring in amazement at a sunset. There is something about the world around us that, whilst it is full of aches and pains and pragmatic plans, it is also dripping with beauty that God has bestowed upon it. We who profess love for Jesus and who trust in His plan must have hearts that are open to being amazed by God again and again. We must let our love draw us into adoration and we can never become acclimatised and desensitised to the beauty He has placed around us, and of course… of course… we can never become desensitised to the beauty of the grace through which He gives His very self to us.

What is essential? This is the question the Little Prince asks.

Plans are essential. Beauty is essential. But to forget what it is to look through the world with the eyes of a child is to let go of the eyes that are essential for faith. We must not forsake child-like eyes for the sake of being grown up, because if we do that, we miss out on so much of the joy that God offers us.

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