Finding things to do in Nowhere, Kansas can be tough...especially if you're used to living in a metropolis such as Chicago, Philidelphia, or the Bronx. For most of us, the only entertainment for our Saturdays here is dinner and a movie. I've never been much of a movie buff, but it seems that "movie-going" is a common activity when you have limited funds and options.
Yesterday about 8 of us went to see the new movie My Sister's Keeper, a story about two sisters: Kate who is battling cancer and the other, Anna, who was genetically engineered to be a perfect donor to keep her sister alive. It is an extremely powerful movie; and I found two specific parts that gave me pause and gave me the opportunity to contemplate on my own thoughts and actions.
Warning: I'll never give a "complete spoiler," however I may discuss parts of the movie that are not in the previews. If you want to be completely compelled by the story, you may want to stop reading here. If you're okay with knowing a little more, I invite you to keep reading. -V
In contrast to the other movies we've watched since being here in Kansas, our drive home was done in silence. 8 guys sitting in complete silence in one vehicle might be unnerving, however I found it to be quite peaceful. As the van rolled down the freeway in a comfortable silence, my mind retraced the movie I'd seen. I was surprised at how much it had affected me, in spite of myself.
When we got back to the friary in Victoria, I decided to walk out into the field. I looked into the sky and all around me. Rather than seeing buildings, street lights, cars, or the things I've been used to seeing...I saw the beauty of being in a place like Kansas. I thought to a scene in the movie where Kate (Sofia Vassilieva) is taken to the beach to spend a day with her family. In the scene, you see Kate taking in the beauty of her surroundings, happy in the fact that she is with her family and spending time enjoying life instead of battling cancer.
As I walked under the big Kansas sky, I wondered why it was so hard for me to simply enjoy the beauty and peace that existed way out here. Does one need to be completely removed from all beauty in life before we value it? How am I able to better see the wonder of God in all around me?
The second part that truly got me thinking was the part played by Alec Baldwin. As Campbell Alexander, he has been hired by Anna (Abigail Breslin) to represent her in a suit against her parents for Medical Emancipation. Mr. Alexander is shown as an injury lawyer who's commercials appear frequently on TV. His representation of Anna pro bono is considered to be an act of gaining notoriety.
Later in the story, this movie shows something not often seen in modern media: Alec Baldwin has a grand mal seizure. And as people in the court watch with horror as he goes through an epileptic episode, Abigail speaks a truth that only someone in my (or the lawyer's position) could understand:
"[He] wanted to help me because he also knew what it was like not to be in control of your own body."
As I think as to how I approach my faith, my ministry, and my future with the Capuchins, much of my plans and desires surround the concept of power. Giving power to those who don't have it, using power to bring about needed change, empowering others who have no voice. I wouldn't say I am "power-hungry," rather I am "power-conscious." I know who is in control, I seek to understand, to work with it, and if need be - to undermine and subvert it. This is not a unique spirituality, however it is something that has been in me for a long time. I never knew why I saw the world in such a way...until now.
The fact that I could have a seizure here, or while driving, or in my sleep, or doing any host of things is always a possibility in spite of the control that medicine provides. For all the control and power in the world, I cannot control my own body. It is disempowerment at it's most basic level. Viewing my world from that aspect, from a movie shown on a big screen, I found a way to make sense of why I am the way I am and why I look at the world as I do.
I never imagined that this movie would provide me with such an internal look at my own self, and for that I am grateful. For years I have found God in the unlikeliest of places. Songs, artwork, the ramblings of homeless person. There are several other scenes that I found inspiring and worthy of reflection. But if I keep talking about it, you may never get the same pleasure I got, Dear Reader.