Patricio Guzman’s film “Nostalgia for the Light” juxtaposes two realities of the Atacama desert in Chile. On the one hand, there are the mountain-top telescopes (some of the largest in the world) that seek out the origins and make-up of our universe. On the other hand there are the handful of women who search, still, for disappeared relatives among the sandy plains of the Atacama. The film is moving and fascinating and original – the juxtaposition of these two realities is in no way forced.
In my reflections for Epiphany (this Sunday) I am playing with the parallel I see between the narrative of Matthew and this film of Guzman. In Matthew, too, there are the star searchers (seeking human meaning in the heavens, in the stars) and there is the backdrop of violence as Herod destroys lives.
Very often, we humans live between these two realities – seeking the meaning of life (among the stars and elsewhere) – but often against a backdrop of in humanity and suffering.
In the midst of this reality is the child – God with us. The one before whom the star searchers bend the knee. He is the answer to our searching, and he is with us in the face of suffering and violence. In that very place of our searching and suffering, God meets us.
A trailer for Guzman’s film: