When I was a boy, I discovered a wonderful book. It was a part of my school library, and I would check it out every chance I had. It was the story of a boy who was sent to bed without his supper for misbehaving. While in his room a “forest grew, and grew, and grew until his ceiling hung with vines and his walls became the world all around.”
I was Max.
I was the little boy that got into trouble. Not so much for being a wild thing, but for other reasons. I was the little boy that had a big imagination – one full of friends and heroes and enemies and a few wild things. I was the boy, who after going on an adventure, even when he knew his mother might be angry with him, could depend on the fact that when he came home, his supper would be waiting for him.
“Where the Wild Things Are” is more than a book to me. It is a story that captured me twenty five years ago and continues to hold me tight. It is a story I now tell my daughter – word for word, without the book. It is a story of adventure, imagination, friendship, love, loss, and grace.
“Where the Wild Things” opens in movie theaters tonight. I have seen all the trailers. Even with a resounding endorsement from Maurice Sendak, I am reluctant to see it. I am reluctant because its not his story anymore. And its not Spike Jonze’s story either. Its mine.
“Where the Wild Things Are” is MY story. It is MY adventure. I was there when they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws. I was on that ship – dozens of times. It is MY wild rumpus, complete with the beating drums in the background that I still make when I read the story. I was the king of the Wild Things.
I am Max.
And it was MY mother who had dinner waiting for me when I returned.
I will probably go see the movie, but to be honest I’m not sure if I want to. I’m not exactly sure what I’m afraid of. I know that the story will always be mine. When I was a kid it was important to know that no matter how wild I was, no matter how far I strayed, no matter how long I was gone, my supper would always be waiting for me.
As an adult I have a deeper understanding of grace. Max and his mother helped teach me that. So now maybe its okay to let go of my story – a little. The story of grace is one that needs to be told over and over to as many people as possible.
Someday soon my daughter will come home from the library (her favorite place in the world) carrying the story of Max and his wild friends. She will read it and I pray that she will know that no matter how wild she is, no matter how far she strays, no matter how long she is gone, her supper will always be waiting for her.
And it will still be hot.