musings of a saint and sinner

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Shipping News

Quoyle has a past. He knows that his father perenially rejected him, that he almost let him drown as a method of teaching him to swim. He knows that his father sent him one more message of rejection as his parting words before both parents took their own lives. He knows that his marriage to a woman named Petal has resulted in the continuing cycle of rejection. The only good thing in his life is his rather troubled daughter, Bunny.

And yet, Quoyle always believed (even as a child) that if his real, long-lost relatives could find him, they would love him and he would suddenly be accepted. It is his only hope. When Petal is killed in a car crash, just after his parents' death, Quoyle is uniquely open to a change. His Aunt Agnis takes Quoyle and Bunny to the land of their family, Newfoundland. Quoyle begins to succeed as a newspaper reporter. He, Bunny, and Agnis move into the old Quoyle house. It is dark. The house has been lashed down for years, and the cords holding it to the ground, firm from the dangerous wind, sing mournfully at night. The sound symbolizes the dark ghosts of this family's past. Quoyle discovers that the roots of darkness in his past stretch far further than he had guessed. Tragic, ugly family secrets are revealed. Murder. Incest. Mutilation. His relatives were not nice people; they were pirates and vicious ones at that. And now this man, who has rejected everything about himself is brought to a crisis of identity. If evil and darkness is even in his blood, his family, what good can he find? He despairs.

And then two miracles occur. The dark, sin-haunted house is swept apart and out to sea in a storm. With it goes its power to intimidate and lurk with evil. In the same storm, the body of a drowned man in the community is recovered. It seems a curse has been associated with all of the men in his family. They are cursed to die at sea, and he fulfills the same ugly spell. And then, at his wake, he sits up and starts sputtering water! He is alive! The curse is broken.

At the end of the movie, Quoyle says, "There are still so many things I don't know. If a piece of knotted string can unleash the wind [referencing a supersitious practice], and if a drowned man can awaken, then I believe a broken man can heal." This is a story of death and resurrection. It is a story of Quoyle finally being able to look into the depth of the darkness of his past, his identity and seeing its filthiness, ugliness, brokenness. And having looked the worst things he fears in the eye, he has also seen miracles. He has seen that curses can be broken. He has seen that new life can come. He doesn't know how he will experience healing. But having seen miracles, he now has faith in something perhaps beyond himself, something with the power to heal.

This film gave me hope and it showed me that we can be given a new identity from that of our past. As a Christian, I believe that this is exactly what Jesus Christ does for me.

Friday, October 13, 2006

mel gibson

He gets it. Mel Gibson is half nuts, fully aware of his sinful nature, confused, messy....and redeemed. We rarely get to see a Christian so honest about the rawness of his sinful nature. We hear him apologize and try to make things right while still being mystified by the sin that lives within him. Mel Gibson may be broken, but he gets it. He knows he needs grace.

This is something alcoholics "get" better than most people (once they become self-aware). Alcoholics are able to admit that they can't fix themselves...that they are in trouble. And the reality is, they're no different than the rest of us. The rest of us are in a mess...unable to fix ourselves...mystifyingly broken...terribly rebellious. We just hide it under a nicer exterior.

The problem that I see with our never-ending "niceness" is that it blinds us to our need for a Savior. We can't bear to look our rebellious hearts "in the eye." We are terrified of what we would find there if we did.

That's why Mel Gibson's courage in doing that can inspire us. Only when we see our basic human problem can we see our need for grace.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

an ode to female friendship

During my single years, I spent most of my time wanting to be in the company of interesting men. That was my goal. Spend time with men and land me a boyfriend. I hate to admit it, but I think I looked at women quite often as the competition. They were what was standing between me and a man. Not that I didn't have some female friends that I really valued, but I had a hard time avoiding that sense of competitiveness. I thought that the ultimate relationship that would give me everything I needed was to be found in a man.

And I'll definately hand it to men. Having a man in my life has been a phenomenal, enriching, life-defining experience. I love my husband's "otherness," his manliness. I love the attraction between us. I love the way we balance out and fill each other in. I love our conversations, our time together and all that we share.

But ever since I have been in a stable, committed relationship, I have begun to realize that a man is no substitute for girlfriends! There's just something about the relatability between women friends that is necessary in each woman's life. A woman friend understands that she doesn't have to fix your fact, she may fix it just by listening. She understands that women process by talking...verbally trying ideas on for size, so she doesn't assume what you say is the final word on the subject. She instantly "gets" the stressfulness of mood swings and monthly cycles and the like. She is someone to giggle with, eat chocolate with, and definately go shopping with. She likes to talk about relationships, and to dissect them down to the nth degree (do you know ANY guys that do that???...but why don't they? it's so interesting!). She is your fellow comrade in rolling your eyes at your men (lovingly, of course!). Women aren't perfect friends, of course. But they're indispensible. They're needed. They refresh the spirit. And if I had my single days to do over again, I would try to remember that a man can never do the total job of filling my cup. It takes lots of varied relationships to do that...and one of the most key relationships is me and my girlfriends.

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