Netflix delivered the Oscar winning documentary Man on Wire to my house more than two weeks ago. My wife and I have been waiting for the perfect, angst-free, quiet, uninterrupted two hour period of time to push the DVD tray closed and watch Man on Wire. If your house is like mine, then you understand how just the thought of such a two-hour span reveals the eternal optimist that lies within me.
I’m not a big documentary fan. But given the Academy‘s recognition, a friend’s Facebook status, and that I liked Winged Migration a few years back, I thought I would give Man on Wire a go. I wouldn’t describe this movie as “must see.” I would, however, encourage anyone with an eye for style, an imagination that is too often found wanting in today’s world, and an appreciation for history to give it a shot. It documents tightwire artist Philippe Petit’s 1974 walk from the top of the South Tower to the top of the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
The reason I would write the first words about this movie here is this: there is a subtle beauty inherent. Beauty is such a significant aspect of the spiritual journey we have accepted. I think much of my reaction has to do with the romance I associate with the world we lost on September 11, 2001. The filmmakers were intentional, I think, in making the World Trade Center a tragic centerpiece in the unfolding drama. But the subtle beauty is also associated with Petit’s “walk” across the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral in his hometown of Paris. I’ve read books on beauty. I’ve tried to write about it. It seems to be always just beyond my words. But there are those moments when you know you’re close. It’s in these times I feel like I should be grateful for what looks and feels like an invitation into something transcendent. For whatever reason, I felt like Petit’s tightwire walk at Notre Dame was his own unique invitation into beauty. Especially when you hear the description from one of those closest to Petit.
“He didn’t want to conquer the universe, just beautiful things.” That’s what close, if not romantically linked, friend Annie Allix said of Petit. Petit was in search of beauty and, by taking his tightwire act public, was–and somehow still is–invited us into his world. Beauty at this level has innate risks. It requires vulnerability. Pursuit. Sacrifice. And so this is where we can talk about small-group leadership. You can draw your own conclusions, of course. Amid everything else, be sure to extend an invitation into beauty as you go. Conquering the universe is a noble endeavor, but there will be times on the spiritual journey when we we should just be still. Wait. And watch.