I went to see the Tree of Life this week.
A big film about a big God.
(starring the equally pretty Brad Pitt and Sean Penn)
I would be doing the film an injustice if I tried to define it for you in a few words and I think it’s the kind of film that you would need to see to define for yourself. But I really was moved by it and feel kind of strangely transformed – do you think that’s possible? To be transformed by a movie? Anything’s possible with God I suppose and this was a powerful film … so after seeing it I feel a little different – perhaps I just see differently and I wanted to share what I see…
First of all it is a film about life and God, God and life. The theme and the words running through it were ‘where were you?’ The people ask this question of God repeatedly, ‘where were you when the bad things happened to us, to our children, to our friends, to our world?’
The opening line of the film is God’s answer to that age old question as given to Job, ‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?’ (Job 38:4)
Also running through the film is this beautiful mirror image of the world and creation, the sky is reflected and mirrored in the sea, outer space looks and feels like volcanic eruptions, love and grace are shown as 2 sides of the same coin, the world is depicted as beautiful and perfectly balanced, perfectly in synch … and yet perfectly unfathomable, mysterious, powerful.
The mother’s voice opens by saying that in life we have two choices: grace and nature, grace is loving and kind and sacrificial, nature is demanding and just and scary. And we are told we need to choose which way we will live our lives. But what I found interesting is that the world is not as easily dualistic as that – it’s not simply a matter of choosing, because we all do the best we can with the light we have to see by. The mother lives her life in grace and teaches her boys to love, the father lives his life by nature and teaches the boys to be strong. They each follow their individual ideas of who God is – the mother through her beautiful, loving spirit and the father through his church attendance and his tithing and his moralistic standpoint. Echoed throughout their lives is the turbulence of the world – the fact that nature is demanding and takes back into itself seasons, animals, seas, life itself. There is a power and a law at work in the world which we cannot understand and we try our best to understand. We try and make sense of our world, by following religion, praying to God, doing what we think is right in order to honor God and then bad stuff happens – terrible stuff happens – no matter how righteous, faithful, obedient and loving we are – life happens and we get hurt. That is the law of nature and the law of life…
Neither the mother nor that father could understand what had happened to them in the wake of their tragedy – their question was the same: ‘Where were you? Where were you? Where were you?’
As though God doesn’t care…
And in a world in which I see so much pain I often ask that question myself – Do you care God? Where are you?
Through this film I was reminded that the only real way for me to experience God is through love, ‘the only way to be happy is to love’, the love that I allow to flow through me as part of the unblocked cycle of creativity is the way in which I can know that God cares. He cares THROUGH us, he cares through me.
I have once again been reminded that I am not the centre of the universe, I have been reminded that creation is beautiful and powerful, balanced, that all life is precious and tenuous, that there is a bigger picture and that if I truly want to be happy the best thing I can do is surrender to love and to say ‘to You I will be true, no matter what comes’.