If you have read my posts before, you know we recently relocated as far north as you can live and still be in the US of A. We are slowly acclimatizing ourselves to this new environment. And we promised ourselves that with this immense change in location, we would try to become better, different people. It is a rare opportunity to leave aspects of yourself behind and to start over; a clean slate. We have tried, and are still trying. St. Nikon of Optina says, “A place cannot save you because there is no place where you can flee from yourself.” And it is amazing to me that even though we acknowledged who we were beforehand, those odd little ticks and habits we wanted to leave behind us, we came here, aware, but with all our baggage seemingly intact. I read a cute saying today that stated something to the effect that, “A glass 50% full of water also has 50% air, so technically, it is 100% full. My husband and I are opposites in that I always tend to look on the bright side, and prefer to think of my glasses as half full, whereas my husband is the half empty kind of guy. He told me yesterday that he sees the glass half empty, because that is the reality of it, but then he looks to see how he can fill that glass. He is a practical person, whereas I am sort of a dreamer. I tend to believe in things unseen, whereas he is more like St. Thomas, wanting to place his hands in the wounds of Christ. (Sorry for using “whereas” so much, but it seemed the perfect word!!). For the past 30 years, it has been a winning combination. We are up against the wall once again in our lives, and our personalities are playing a role in how we approach these days. Once in awhile, we feel battered and bruised, and flat out scared; but we forge ahead.
We recently watched the movie, “Life of Pi.” What a beautifully photographed (cinema-graphed?) film. The scenery was amazing. Some of the portions filmed at night on the open seas were just short of spectacular (and please don’t ruin it and tell me they were all CG!!). The protagonist of the story, Picene, is beset with tragedy and the story is how he copes with it. He is in a shipwreck at sea and his entire family drowns. They are transporting some of the animals from their Zoo in India to a new location in Canada. Several of the animals survive and are on a rescue boat with Pi. He tells of his adventure at making his way to becoming a professor in Canada, through the re-telling of his adventures at sea. And he tells the author listening to his tale that when he hears it, he will come to believe in God. It struck me that through adversity, we turn to God and we lean heavily on what we have been taught and come to believe in. Pi was an interesting young man growing up and was all-at-once a practicing Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. His explanation of why was wonderful, with his belief that all religions tells bits and pieces of the reality he wanted to share in his story; that there is a God.
When you visually see God in action, as in the story of the Life of Pi, your faith is cemented and you find peace. Picene uses his beliefs to help him get through something that defied rational explanation, something that was difficult for him to face. His entire family drowned at sea and he was just a young teenager at the time. He survives 277 days on the open sea, with just a “tiger” as his companion. His faith allowed him to reach that Mexican shore, where he was finally rescued, and where the tiger, Richard Parker, just walks away into the jungle. The story leaves us, the reader or viewer, with a choice of which version of Picene’s adventure we choose to believe in. Along with the writer he is speaking to in the story, I like the animal version best – that version gives me God, and hope, and the strength of spirit I sometimes need when I have to move forward. I recommend the movie and the book!!
The timing of this movie was perfect for me. I realize that the joys I find along the way mitigate any sorrow or difficulty I might encounter. While we were working today on applying for jobs, our daughter-in-law dropped by with our grandson and some decaf coffee from our new favorite coffee shop, Jitters. The moments spent with his grandson on his lap gave my husband a reprieve and infused him with a reason to keep plugging away. God promises us, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Cor 10:13). The temptation to despair is one that God does not want us to face: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” (Psalm 42:11) Our Lord gives us glimpses into His eternity; moments of pure spiritual bliss. These moments are there for us to cling to when all else seems lost, when we question the whys and wherefores of our days and our choices, when we feel despondent or despairing. And we can cling to, and long for more of, the peace that only comes from God. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27
And when that bouncing baby grandson smiles up at you with those amazing dimples, you know that all will be right in this world. God works in us and in His time. “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)