In the first act of Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker takes nineteen steps toward the desolate horizon emblazoned by a binary sunset.
The audience, ushered forward by John Williams’ score, sees a longing in Luke that the more elderly viewer knows is afforded to only the very young. As time passes in our lives, the reality of the mundane world chips away at our sense of the miraculous. Time is corrosive to both the body and the soul, through that corrosion our experiences re-shape us. With experience comes wisdom, and sadly, wisdom oft times replaces wonder.
Wisdom is important though, it is the timeless teacher which keeps us from making the same mistakes we stole away with as children. Wisdom is the sword of the mind. It guards us against those who might seek to treat us like sheep and shear us…or slaughter us.
But wonder, oh wonder – that burning belief inside the tender heart which roots itself in the fantasies and magic of tremendous and far away places. Places that can only be reached by bridges of great and indeterminable working. Workings that transform wardrobes into doorways and turn mirrors into silver windows. They take us to realms where an orphan slave can become a messiah. Where a farmer boy can become an incorruptible redeemer. Where a princess can become a capable freedom-fighter. And where a mercenary can become a Captain of the Guard.
And that farmer boy, the son of a prodigal father. The father, who had the power to bring an entire galaxy in harmony, wasted it all on his own vainglory.
For Anakin Skywalker, whose tale is a cautionary yarn of the corrupting influence of power, nothing proved more powerful than the love of a son.
A boy he’d never met named Luke.
And while it may seem silly to emotionally wax over Star Wars at the age of 31, I cannot help but still be moved by this singular notion – That no matter who our fathers are, no matter how all their flaws come to light as we age, there will always be a yearning to see them as we did when we were young.
As good men.
This feeling bubbles up inside of me every single time I watch Star Wars: Return of the Jedi- When Luke surrenders himself over to the very person standing in the way of his own personal triumph (becoming a Jedi Knight), the patriarch who has murdered millions (including Luke’s foster parents), and maimed Luke by cutting off his hand; Luke still works toward his father’s salvation.
Through all the bad Darth Vader put upon the galaxy, not a single person living among the stars of that universe would feel poorly for Darth Vader’s life to end in a horrifically painful fashion. But to Luke, Vader is worth the pain of salvation.
To everyone else the Dark Lord of the Sith is the scourge of the galaxy. But to Luke, he is a conflicted and broken man who can be redeemed.
To everyone else Darth Vader is a monster. To Luke Skywalker, he is a father.
And it is true that the sons of monsters need not be monsters themselves.
And it is in that moment, Luke manacled and helpless without his one tool of protection, looks to his father – that black knight of death and destruction; Luke this time takes two steps not nineteen, turns with that same youthful hope in his eyes and says, “Come with me.”
Because no one else matters to me but you.
Because I’ll love you no matter what you’ve done.
Because I’m incorruptible.
Because I’m your son.