I admit it: I love going to the movies. I love the whole package. I want to sit in the dark and be transported to another time and place for ninety minutes. It would be much cheaper to wait for films to come out on DVD, but life is too short to settle for a TV screen image of the great dramas that have captured my imagination and thrilled my heart.

And please…pop the popcorn and layer the butter! I’ll count calories elsewhere.

Truthfully, I would go to the movies more often if there were films I cared to see. I’ve walked out of theaters when I realized the trailers did not accurately portray the film’s disappointing or disturbing content.

On the other hand, I find no shame in seeing movies that I love more than once. (However, don’t ask me how many times I’ve seen “The Help” or “The Notebook.” You don’t want to know.)

Movies entertain us, but more than that – like great art or music – great movies touch us and move us in ways that go beyond the story itself. We would do well to pay attention to those stirrings deep within because they matter – they reveal the matters of our heart and our longings. Knowing our heart helps us to find true north and set our course in life.

My husband could not stem the flood of tears that flowed after seeing “Field of Dreams.” The compelling story of a father/son conflict and a touching ending certainly justified misty-eyes; but the movie exposed a part of Jon’s heart he was unaware of: It tapped a pocket of pain over his relationship with his own father.

Jon had his mother’s artist’s eye. He followed his heart and studied photography at the Center For Creative Studies in Detroit. My father-in-law never understood Jon’s refusal of his offer to set him up in business when a local sandwich shop went on the market. Art could have only dreamed that his immigrant father could have given him such a leg up in life. Seeing the movie shortly after the loss of his dad helped Jon give voice to the pain of those unmet expectations. Bringing them to light brought healing.

Scenes from my life flashed in my mind as the credits rolled at my first viewing of “The Help.” As a child of the sixties, I wished I could ride a Greyhound bus from Michigan to Mississippi to join the marches to end segregation.

I also recalled the summer of 1966. I was 16-years old and had just graduated from high school. I rode a train to the Chicago area to work as a nanny for a wealthy family. My employer took advantage of me from the day I arrived. She heaped on new responsibilities that were not a part of my agreed upon job duties. Although I couldn’t begin to compare my experience to that of the women in the movie, I know the humiliation of being looked on as the hired help and treated as “less than.”

These memories of my youth poured out of me as my daughter and I rode home from the theater. I had not thought about them in years, and certainly had no reason to discuss them with my children. I also spoke of other jobs as a waitress and motel maid in my college years that gave me an understanding of and compassion for people in service positions. “The Help” was the catalyst that helped me share that part of my life and my heart with Aimee.

I am grateful to my favorite writer Ken Gire for teaching me to be more attentive to the music, books, and movies that stir my soul. In his book The Reflective Life: Becoming More Spiritually Sensitive to the Everyday Moments of Life, Gire tells of his practice of “marking the trail.” He keeps a list of the books read and movies seen each year to remember where he’s been on his spiritual pilgrimage and what has touched him. I mark the trail of my spiritual journey in the covers of the prayer journals I keep.

Matters of the heart matter. Movies can take us to the heart of the matter.

Today’s challenge: Think of a movie that stirred something in you. Take time to reflect on what it reveals of your heart and your longings. Share it with someone you trust. Mark your trail.







1 Comment

  1. Barb
    Mar 6, 2013

    Love! Love!

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