Maybe it all started when I chose underwater-breathing as my superpower.
You see, throughout my childhood, I loved the idea of magic. The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter.
I reenacted the stories, and wrote my own, full of magical weapons, secret lands, and girl-heroes.
When I reached adolescence, romance was the magic. I loved chick-flicks like Serendipity and You’ve Got Mail, stories of chance meetings and stars aligning, and belief making impossibilities normal.
But when I met God a number of years ago, it became a problem.
Here was an all-powerful being, who, I finally started to believe, loved me unconditionally, with all the magical possibilities of my romantically-saturated heart at his disposal. Because I didn’t yet know him, I innocently assigned portents for the way he worked. He’s a God of signs and wonders, after all.
You (might) know, stuff like seeing “signs” in the letters on a license plate or searching for meaning in nature. The eagle became a sign of fulfilled promise, the color fuschia a representation of spiritual condition, my extra heartbeat a harbinger of holding people’s stories…
I never could prove for certain that it was God, though, so eventually I gave it up. Along the line, I realized I had to believe God at his word, not at the demonstration of his powerful arm.
I had to trust that he loved me when he said, “I love you,” instead of inserting him into the ways I wanted to feel loved.
Nevertheless…I still maintain that belief in signs is evidence of our intrinsic desire to be intimately known.
Fast-forward three or four years to summer 2017.
While I was soaking in prayer and worship one day, I saw in my spirit an image of an aquaman suit. Not the superhero, the diving suit, the shoulders and helmet-head, mostly. Something like this:
I had no idea what it meant, but I filed it away.
Six months later, in Ireland, I saw this colorful mural painted on a wall in Belfast:
I still didn’t know what it meant, but I laughed.
Six months after that, I saw (belatedly) DC’s Justice League, in which the superhero Aquaman appears as a side-character.
I laughed a second time.
Another six months, bumping into last week, when I saw the Aquaman movie in theaters, thoroughly appreciating the underwater fantasy world and story of Atlantis.
It wasn’t the ethereal setting or snarky script or Aquaman’s body that captivated me, however. The magic happened for me at the three-quarter mark, when the protagonists pursue Neptune’s Trident to the Sahara Desert, of all places.
An aerial camera provides a sweeping view of the ocean rolling onto the shore of the Sahara Desert, where I had been myself not two weeks before.
My shout of laughter from the front of the theater turned to silent tears.
In an instant I was transported to the pink-orange sand of the dunes, the scorch of the sun, the trickle of sweat down my back. I smelled fish, and felt the rush of icy water and broken shells, and heard the flap of tent sides.
I remembered standing in the swell of foamy green sea on the edge of the African continent, with the dunes at my back, and hearing the voice of God promising to carry me out of the longest, darkest season of my life.
Now here I was, sitting in an American theater, watching the last two years roll before my eyes like an old movie reel, the faithful love of God at my back, bookmarked by the image of an aquasuit.
Tell me he isn’t a God of his word, and a God of signs and wonders.