Dora the Explorer, the Golden Lady & the Feast of the Assumption

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The queen stands at your right hand arrayed in gold. Psalm 45:10-17

I saw the movie Dora and the Lost City of Gold this weekend in theaters with my seven and eight-year old and I’ve got to tell you, I was surprised to find a few things I wasn’t expecting.

I had read the parental reviews of the movie and braced myself for the childish humor barrage of fart jokes and potty talk just for laughs, which were abundant as they said they would be, and was pleased to find the story line filled with uplifting messages, also like they said there would be.  But what struck me most about the movie is some of the things they didn’t say there would be, like some great wisdom and a breath taking image of Our Lady at the Gate of Heaven.

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***SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know what happens, stop reading. But if you keep reading, please know you may wind up seeing it just to see if things are as I said they would be. Don’t blame me, I warned you.

Right away, my heart knew there was something special about to happen in this movie when an exchange between seven-year old Dora and her eight-year old cousin Diego revealed the treasure chest of wisdom locked behind this tiny explorer. Having been best friends exploring the jungles of South America all their life, suddenly Diego was moving to the big city, he was yelling at her instead of speaking to her like the friend he’d always been to her. Rather than shout back at him or scold him for being too harsh with her, Dora recognized his anger was not because of anything she had done but because he was being bombarded by a spirit of fear. “Diego, you’re yelling at me right now because you’re anxious about moving away to the big city,” a softly spoken young Dora points out. Her cousin is thankful for the wisdom and the mercy and affirms his cousin’s insights. I pointed it out to my son and daughter, who like Diego and Dora, had had many similar encounters with yelling. How exactly perfect is this example for little movie watchers to encounter. Mercy is such a rare lesson actively taught in our culture, much less, exampled. It warmed my heart to know that those with eyes to see could encounter such grace. How often do we hurry past those moments when we could offer it and choose instead to let someone else’s anger upset us and in our bitterness move our own hearts to anger. Dora’s character was warming up to me.

Fast forward past awkward sing-song scenes and comic relief, which was albeit pleasant even for adults, and let us land at the end of the movie, which caught my attention most – the Woman in Gold.

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Eva Longoria defying standards in Hollywood and Motherhood, appearing at her heaviest having recently given birth to her first child at age 43.

Having found the Lost City of Gold, Dora and her family (who’s mom portrayed by Desperate Housewives Eva Longoria is hardly recognizable in her fuller more natural body shape after giving birth for the first time at age 43 – something I could blog about entirely on its own because she’s defying standards on beauty and motherhood and radiating while she does it but more on that later) are suddenly captured by the protectors of the city, an ancient tribe of warriors lead by a very old woman who suddenly transfigures before them into a vibrant woman arrayed in gold with a crown of gold rays upon her head. She is the protector of the Gate to the City of Gold and her army of fierce warriors stands behind her ready to do her every command.

Something struck me in that instant, or I should say Someone. Maybe it was the beauty of the gold crown upon her head, but all of a sudden my memory recalled another woman in Gold I had heard of in the Scriptures.

The Psalmist writes of her in chapter 45 verse 10, “The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.”

Hidden inside the youth-like vision of a Dora the Explorer movie was this wonderful imagery of Our Lady for all the world to see, or at least those with eyes to see it.

This adventure in the Lost City of Gold was suddenly capturing more of my heart, especially when upon discovering that Dora and her friends were not treasure hunters but rather explorers who sought after the Lost City of Gold not to plunder it but to wonder at it, the beautiful Lady in Gold allows Dora access to gaze upon the city, but only after she proves herself worthy by answering an ancient truth. What is the most valuable treasure of the Incas? The answer: Living Water.

This beautiful exchange called to mind a vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe who is said to have appeared to a poor Aztec Indian, Juan Diego, at Tepeyac Hill, outside Mexico City in December 1531. The Aztecs had been practicing infanticide and child sacrifice for hundreds of years and the advent of exploring the new world had brought them face to face with Catholic missionaries who condemned such practices. It’s believed that the word Guadalupe was actually a Spanish mis-translation of the local Aztec dialect. The word that Mary probably used was Coatlallope which means “one who treads on snakes”! Within six years of this apparition, six million Aztecs had converted to Catholicism and the practice of child sacrifice and infanticide had ceased.

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Juan Diego revealing the heaven-painted self-portrait of Our Lady as she appeared to him on the Aztec hill of human sacrifice she came to abolish. The tilma hangs now in the Basilica at Guadalupe in Mexico City for all to see and scientist confirm the paint, which was said to be of rose petals, is not of an earthly orign.

Never mind the fact there were two Diego’s running through my mind now watching this movie, Dora’s and Our Lady’s, I was drawn in by the beautiful heritage of the South American culture and the great love of Heaven to swoop in and save those who valued the treasure of Heaven most over the treasures of this world. It was easier for me now to look upon the image of the lady dressed in gold and envision Our Lady, the Queen of Heaven who sits at the right hand of the king dressed in the gold of Ophir and ready to protect his fortune that lies in wait for those who seek it worthily.

By the time Dora and her Explorer friends and family were actually allowed to gaze upon the Lost City of Gold I was already lost in my own imagination of what it would be like on that day when our own eyes would gaze upon that heavenly City of Gold. So vast, so wonderful, “so beyond anything I had ever imagined” to quote Dora’s mom in the movie (Eva Longoria).

So yes, today of all feast days, I am sitting here writing to you about a children’s movie and caught up reflecting on that beautiful Lady in Gold. The Lady who protects the Golden City of Our Lord. The Lady arrayed in such splendor that she herself became the Ark of the New Covenant, in whose womb she carried to us the Bread of Life and that Living Water. The same Living Water who gazed back upon her beauty at the foot of the cross and gave her splendor to all mankind as a mother, full of grace and full of mercy.

So shall the king desire your beauty; for he is your lord. Psalm 45:11

This August 15, on the Feast of the Assumption, Our Lady continues to affirm to us that heavenly gift which awaits all those who seek the City of Gold. Standing at the right hand of the King who so desires her beauty she is a gift to us from her Son, Jesus, and she continues to “gloriously radiate out gold through her dress” or so she is said to appear to all five of the Medjugorje visionaries each Christmas Day and on her Feast Days “while holding Baby Jesus in her arms.”

She always extends this beautiful special blessing to all those who seek the true treasure of heaven: the Living Water, her Son, Jesus:

“…Today I give you my SPECIAL BLESSING. Bring it to all creation, so that all creation will know peace…”

“Bless [with the Special Blessing] even those who don’t believe. You can give them this Blessing from the heart to help them in their conversion. Bless everyone you meet. I give you a special grace. I desire you to give this grace to others.”

Our Lady always leaves us saying, “Go in peace.”

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Gold statue of Our Lady looking over Lyon, France

And that is exactly what Our Lady in Gold did for me in that dark theater while watching a children’s movie – she gave me courage to go in peace and mercy (as Dora did for Diego), not as a treasure hunter, but as an explorer in search of wonder with that true treasure of Living Water. The belief in the Assumption of Mary for me is just that, the belief that Our Lord loved her beautiful soul so much that he would assume her body and soul to be beside him like the Psalmist says, dressed in the gold of Ophir standing at his right hand. Whether we are in the remotest parts of the jungle, the big city, or the back-row of a dark theater, Our Lady in Gold is always watching and ready to help those explorers find their way in the power of her Son’s peace to that City of Gold.

For those who seek the true treasure, she will reveal herself to them and let them gaze upon its wonders.

 

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