Yesterday, I posted my review of Lady In the Water. I wanted to write about the three prevalent themes that I felt like the movie presented, but I ran out of time (and room on the page). So, here we are again. Ready to go.
As I said before, I love to examine the messages that a film is trying to convey. Often times, films are able to teach us so much because we are able to suspend reality for an hour and a half and put ourselves in the place of the characters in the story. Since Monday night, this film has been on my mind. I've been chewing on it. Trying to understand the themes and break them down enough to apply to my own life. Maybe writing some of it out will help with that.
WARNING: This contains spoilers!
Theme #1: Discovering Our Purpose
In the film, Cleveland Heep (Giamatti) is a man who has lost much. As a result, he has abandoned the world. He hasn't retreated to a cave and become a hermit, nor has he launched himself into space. But, he has done what I have done so many times; he has become the walking dead. Even though he passes residents in the breezeways of the apartment complex that he supers everyday, he doesn't allow himself to do life with any of them. He doesn't allow anyone to get close enough to touch his soul. In his days before working as a superintendent, he had a purpose; a calling. He was a doctor. After a painful event in his past, he abandoned that purpose in a dangerous exchange that so many of us make all the time: we abandon what makes us us in exchange for the false promise that seclusion will keep us safe. (More on this later) This movie is about Cleveland rediscovering his purpose.
"All creatures have a purpose", says one of the characters in the movie. And that statement is so true. We do. We all have a purpose. Our purpose in this life is to honor God by loving Him as hard as we possibly can, to receive His love (allow ourselves to be loved BY him), and love others in the same way that we love (honor, take care of, watch out for, etc.) ourselves. We each have these broad purposes in our lives. But, I believe that we each have specific purposes in our lives as well. I believe that God has given each of us gifts (talents, abilities, pre-disposed inclinations, etc.) that He means for us to use to serve those around us. Cleveland learns, through his encounter with Story (Howard), that he is meant to be a healer. Which leads us to...
Theme #2: Discovering Our Giftings
In the film, Story has been living in the complex pool for a time, but has discovered it is time for her to go back home to the blue world. Through the memories of an old Chinese lady, Cleveland uncovers why. It seems that Story is destined to become the queen Narf (Sea Nymph) and has to get home in order to do so. Part of her story is that several humans will be instrumental in her departure. One will be a guardian, who is meant to protect her. One will be a symbologist, who will uncover messages from the universe within some object that is native to them. A group of them will be a guild, whose hands will strengthen and uplift the group. And one will become a healer, who will bring life. Cleveland, because he finds Story, thinks that he is the guardian. But when he encounters the evil Scrunt, which is bent on killing Story, he has no power over it, as the guardian should. It isn't until later on that he discovers that he is the healer. And it's when he discovers this, that he feels the most fulfilled.
God has given each of us gifts. These gifts are meant to be used to help others. When they are used for this purpose, we find fulfillment. We find fulfillment because we are taking part in God's plan for mankind: a plan to restore us to what we were supposed to be...
Theme #3: Discovering Our Part In the Body of Christ
One of the things that I loved the most about this movie is how this group of strangers, led by Cleveland, rallies together under a common purpose. By rallying together, they discover that they each have strengths that the others don't. They discover that they each have a specific purpose within the group. I think that being a part of a group is extremely healing for Cleveland. As I mentioned before, so many times we exchange our relationships with other people for a risk-free life of solitude. So many times, when someone hurts us deeply, we think (I think) that it would be better to not let anyone anywhere near our hearts ever again. And even if that means a life of loneliness, at least it also means that we won't have to experience pain, as a result of caring for someone so deeply, ever again. The problem with this, is that God designed us to do life with other people. He designed us to be a part of a group. To love. To risk. To feel the hurt, but also feel the joy. We cannot let our past pains affect our present need for relationship. (Boy am I preaching to myself on this one!) Can we live life on our own? Yes. Can we live life in the way that it is intended to be lived on our own? No. It's like asking can a car move without gas. Yes, if you roll it down a hill. But, it can do so much more with the right fuel.
Maybe the reason this all hit me so hard is because I'm dealing with a lot of this stuff in my life right now. I know about my purpose within my relationship with God, but I struggle with doubts as to my purpose in my chosen career. Am I really called? Couldn't someone else do a better job? Do my giftings really fit this job? Isn't there someone more gifted? More qualified? And the thing that I struggle most with is finding my place as part of the body of Christ. I love my church. I've been here for a year and 3 months and it has been a struggle for me to find a group of people that I can have community with. (Truth be told; I secluded myself for the first 6-8 months I was here due to my own loss.) Please don't hear me say that I doubt all the time. At the end of the day I know this is where I'm meant to be. But sometimes it's a struggle.
I hope that some of these thoughts (although not fully formed or finished) can help you a little. I'll probably be chewing on them for some time...