In the 2012 fantasy film, Beasts of the Southern Wilds, five year-old Hush Puppy’s name suggests a savory deep fried cornbread ball served with catfish, one of the staple foods enjoyed by the misfits poaching on the Bathtub, an island in southern Louisiana. Tromping around in white boots, undershirt, and pants, she seasons the worlds of those in the film, as well as millions of moviegoers.

Fending on her own in her mother’s abandoned shack, Hush Puppy’s imagination empowers her with unusual wisdom. Close to the earth, she plays: listening to heartbeats of all living creatures, attuning herself to their rhythms, and growing in wisdom. She is content, despite living among the trash washed up upon their shores. Everyone does.

Even her alcoholic father, Wink, irascible, unpredictable, cannot resist her simple ways.

However, a hurricane inundates the Bathtub with salt water brought on by the storm surge; it slowly begins to kill all life forms. The survivors, passionate about preserving their community, eke out their existence, Hush Puppy among them. Her intuition empowers her to handle the terminal illness of Wink, to listen to his failing heart, then to push his flaming shrouded remains, placed in his makeshift boat, into the Gulf. Within the company of the survivors, she continues on.

Beasts of the Southern Wilds is a film of transformation. Despite insupportable death challenges, Hush Puppy emerges; her wildness and that of the misfits honed to keener truth. Indeed, fresh grace buoys their next steps, hand in hand.

In my perception, this story resonates with the Passover and Easter mysteries this week, also intended to hone our wildness. May you discover, anew, this sacred nourishment.

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