Friday, 10 June 2011

The Straight Story

I recently watched a wonderful film called The Straight Story by David Lynch one of the great movie directors of the modern era. There is a scene in the film where the main character (Alvin Straight) is in a bar with an another elderly man he has met on his journey. They sit and talk, sharing something of what they each went through in the second world war.

As they talk their voices choke up and tears roll down their cheeks. They each tell their story, they listen to each others story. They have been through the pain of war but they don’t try and sympathise they just sit together. You sense the release in being able to share with someone who just hears and understands.

It is truly a beautiful scene, I was blessed by it but in a small way it betrayed a sadness. There is a sense they have held these feelings for decades unable to share them or speak them out. These old men came from a culture where men didn’t share and that was that. Is it so different now?

Yes we are more comfortable with people sharing struggles & issues but whilst they aren't frowned upon and told you shouldn’t do that we can be very quick to tell people to sort themselves out. Not directly to their face no but subtley by telling them, "Yes, I know I have that problem and I did ..." or "You mustn’t think like that" and variations on these themes. Even our response as Christians can be very quickly, "Oh, I'll pray for you" or a little more pointedly, "Have you brought it to God in prayer?"*

I was talking recently with a friend about a sudden bereavement I had learnt of and he shared about learning of a close friend who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He told me it took him three or four days to call as he didn't know what to say. Isn't that it, our problem is we always need to say something. Is that what people want? Or do they really just want to be heard?

So do watch this film the next time it is on, it is slow, simple and so beautiful.

* before I am declared a heretic let me just say - prayer is good and bringing our situations to God is the best thing we can do and we often need reminding of this, but if we only do these things are we really loving one another? We need to be with one another and know that we are being heard and held

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