Imagine, three astronauts’ lightyears from their family and friends, depleted of resources, having already faced devastating loss, emotionally and physically exhausted, and now forced to make a life-or-death decision in which the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.
Now imagine Christopher Nolan is directing.
The film is Interstellar and it’s sci-fi at its very best; and this particular moment in the story is full of fear, sorrow and tension as two of the three remaining astronauts including Brand, a scientist played by Anne Hathaway, and Cooper, an astronaut pilot, played by Matthew McConaughey, argue over what to do next.
They only have the resources to investigate one of two viable planets that might sustain human life. That’s right, the earth is dying and all creation with it, and this mission is the last hope to save humanity.
Brand, Hathaway, the scientist, using all her measurable data and words like hydrocarbons, and mechanics, debates, and intensely so, on behalf of her planet. She is convinced it is the best option.
Cooper, McConaughey, the leader of this mission, based on the data reports of a well-respected scientist, is arguing for the other planet.
And it’s tense.
Now understand, these are scientists, engineers, pragmatists. And they have sacrificed everything for this mission. And they’re alone in space, and they are heart weary, they have already lost so much, and help isn’t coming and failure is not an option.
Can you feel it?
Cooper, says “…We no longer have the fuel to visit both prospects. So, we have to choose.”
Romilly, the third crew member, tiredly states, “We should vote.”
Then Cooper, conflicted, cuts to the heart of his disagreement concerning Brand’s planet choice. “Well, if we’re going to vote, there’s something you should know.” Cooper looks at Brand and with a resigned almost accusing tone, “Brand, he has a right to know.”
Brand glares at Cooper, she’s upset at what he is insinuating and responds defensively, “That has nothing to do with it!”
Romilly looks up curious, he thought he already had all the information, “What are you talking about?”
It’s quiet for a moment and when Brand doesn’t respond Cooper speaks for her, “She’s in love…”
Years before this pivotal moment, several scientist astronauts had already sacrificed their lives by taking one-way investigative trips to planets which they hoped could sustain human life. Those who landed on viable planets had sent back a positive beacon that included the most basic data.
And the planet Brand was arguing for, well, the scientist-astronaut who had traveled there years before, she loved him.
And now Cooper was suggesting that Brand wasn’t choosing the planet based solely on the data, he was insinuating her judgment was clouded by love.
Remember, these are pragmatic scientists. They look at facts and measurables to determine planet viability. Love never enters the equation.
“She’s in love,” echos like accusation.
The third astronaut, Romilly, looks at Brand with apprehension, “Is that true?”
Brand hesitates and then says something most unscientific, “Yes. And that makes me want to follow my heart. But maybe we’ve spent too long trying to figure all this out with theory-“
Cooper cuts her off, “You’re a scientist brand!”
And Brand responds with a deep conviction, some might even call it faith. And this is the moment where if you’re paying attention, you just might discover the meaning of life, the moment my eyes always seem to fill with tears.
“So, listen to me when I say that love isn’t something we invented; it’s observable, powerful. It has to mean something-“
Cooper cuts her off again, “-Love has meaning, yes; social utility, social bonding, child-rearing.”
Brand defiantly responds, “We love people who have died. Where is the social utility in that?”
Cooper shakes his head acknowledging her point, “None,” he admits.
Brand, quietly at first, but then with greater conviction says, “Maybe it means something more, something we can’t yet understand. Maybe it’s some evidence some artifact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive… Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that even if we can’t understand it yet…”
Love, An Infinite Origin
I love how at this moment in the film, when the fate of the world hangs in the balance, the conversation turns to the nature of God, recognizes our inability to understand it with the invitation to trust it anyway. Essentially this moment in the film was about faith, and where to place it; in love or in understanding.
Somehow, while watching this film, we know in our hearts, in our spirits, the solution to their problem, the happy ending to this story, is love.
I think it’s because we are timeless creations. Our beginning is in Love, and Love has no beginning and no end. Love is our infinite origin. And whether we understand it or not, we know love is our salvation.
What if God is love. And what if God created flesh and blood, placed us in the middle of time and space, and then breathed His pneuma, His eternal spirit, His nature, into us?
What if, even while we are acquainted with the limitations of time and space, we are invited to live from a limitless reality, a truer paradigm, love?
In the film, they chose the limitations of their understanding, and they chose wrong.
But of course, through a seemingly miraculous chain of events, humanity was still saved.
Because a good story is a love story, and every love story is ultimately about salvation, reconciliation, restoration, transformation, and resurrection life.
2000 years ago, but no less so this very moment, and also before the foundations of the earth, Jesus steps into our finite way of thinking with an infinite revelation, love. He expresses this revelation through union with Father and Holy Spirit, but also with you and me.
Because “Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.”
And at this moment, Jesus invites us, by faith, to “trust (love) even if we can’t understand it yet.”
In Ephesians 3 Paul invited us to know a love beyond understanding. To be filled to the measure of a measureless revelation.
Today, you are one with a Love that restores all things.
Adapted from a chapter on the nature of measureless love.