“I’ll hop out and grab you one of those vines. I can’t hop. I’m hop-less. This is hopeless. We’re going to drown here!” -Fix-It Felix, Jr., Wreck-It Ralph
We first meet Fix-It Felix Jr. in the movie “Wreck-It Ralph.” He is the celebrated hero of their arcade game and Ralph is the “bad guy” whose job is to wreck the building. In a quest to be known as more than just the “bad guy,” Ralph sets off a series of events that affect multiple games in the arcade. Hoping to find his friend and “fix whatever Ralph wrecks,” Felix and another character go searching in the sweet and colorful racing game Sugar Rush. The candy-themed game is a place they’ve only seen from afar and are learning to traverse the landscape once they arrive.
We may be feeling a little like Felix as we traverse the landscape of everyday life. Things look familiar yet can also change abruptly. We can watch a movie at a movie theater. We can go bowling. We can join our community and pray together at Mass. Yet as the weather gets colder and we’re forced indoors, we’re left facing new questions about how we navigate school, work and holiday gatherings. That old sense of disconnection from our time under the stay-at-home order is returning.
At one point on their journey, Fix-It Felix Jr. and his companion find themselves trapped in Nesquik Sand unable to escape. Felix, gifted with a magical hammer that can fix just about anything, is certain he can save the day: “I’ll hop out and grab you one of those vines.” He quickly realizes that the Nesquik Sand is too strong, and panics: “I can’t hop. I’m hop-less. This is hopeless. We’re going to drown here!” Ever-changing life in this pandemic has caused us to deal with stress, fear and doubt in varying degrees leaving us feeling like we’re fighting against “Nesquik Sand” and that we’re stuck. This experience should not leave us feeling hopeless. Sacred Scripture shows us a different way—where these challenging times are an opportunity for us to reach out and ask the Lord to be with us, to strengthen us and to come to our aid.
We can find a story like Felix’s in the Gospel of St. Matthew. (Matt. 8:23-27) Jesus’ disciples, “swamped by waves” in their boat on the sea, with a storm raging over the waters, are overcome with fear and panic. These were career fishermen who had likely faced storms while out at sea before. We don’t know what made this storm different, but they turned to God in the uncertainty of the moment. Jesus is fast asleep on the boat. Terrified, they call to him, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” When Jesus wakes, he speaks to the waves and the sea is calm.
The whole story in Scripture is brief; it lasts all of five verses. Poor Felix was probably trapped in that Nesquik Sand for about three minutes in the movie. Living in this pandemic, we have been facing ever-changing challenges for almost eight months. It seems like there’s no comparison, but in those moments of panic and distress, the disciples, and even Fix-It Felix felt like their struggle lasted an eternity. Jesus came to the aid of his disciples, saying, “Why are you terrified?” to understand what they were experiencing. He speaks a word of reassurance, and at once calms the storm and their fears.
Jesus’ word amidst the storm is an invitation to each of us, to seek comfort in the Word of God, to call out to him in our moment of need and to trust that he will calm the storm we’re living in. As we continue to face ever-changing plans and struggle with fear, doubt or loneliness, try to take some quiet time with Sacred Scripture. Ask the Lord to speak his peace to you and invite him into the middle of your struggles. He will sit with you in your weariness and bring you peace. This pandemic isn’t over yet, and there will be days or weeks ahead that will bring their own challenges. As we face them, stay close to the Lord, and as Wreck-It-Ralph would say, take life “one game at a time.”