Books · Movies · Travel

2 Stories for the Road

Photo-159We’ve had the patched together spring break travel week, filled with lots of obligations, waiting and driving, sprinkled with just enough sweet spots with friends and family to make it all worth the effort.  The kind of trip where you’re packing up every two days to head to another hotel. Too many carbs, too much coffee.

Even though sleep and eating and exercising schedules are all out of whack, there has been enough down time to enjoy some good stories worth collecting here in my online memory.

The movie: I got to re-watch The King’s Speech on my laptop in two late night sessions. This is the kind of movie that becomes more beautiful every time I watch it.

My first time was in Kansas City at the end of a long day of shopping. Impulsively I slipped into a theater before heading home and it was one of those productions that you know immediately how right they got the story.

As the credits rolled, people clapped. One dapper gentleman actually gave a standing ovation. The Academy got it right too. Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay, all absolutely deserved. So many reasons I love this movie. The friendship between Colin Firth’s Bertie (King George VI) and Geoffrey Rush’s Lionel is magnificent. So awkward at first, so confrontational not long after and ultimately deep and long-lasting.  The dialogue between these two contain some of my favorite movie lines ever.

And it’s not just because of my career as a speech pathologist, although that adds a whole other layer to the appeal. I believe Lionel plays the role of psychologist better than “speech correctionist”.

And how about Elizabeth, Bertie’s wife?  After taking a few minutes to  get over the shock of seeing Bellatrix Lestrange in the role of supportive kings’ wife, she is just perfect. I love the tone of their marriage and how she supports and believes in her husband, despite his own stammering doubts about his ability to be king.

At the end of a day it’s one of those beautiful movies that will stand the test of time because of it’s excellence. Incredible music, cinematography, sets and costumes. Impeccable.

The book: A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle had been sitting in the queue for a while. I ordered a used copy after seeing so many of my favorite authors recommend it. This memoir describes her writing process, her doubts about God and thoughts on a variety of topics: art, morality, profanity, mystery, structure, following your gifts without apology. Here are few phrases worth quoting:

On mystery and questions….
“I wish that we worried more about asking the right questions instead of being so hung up on finding answers….I wish we’d stop finding answers for everything. One of the reasons my generation has mucked up the world to such an extent is our loss of the sense of mysterious.”

On compassion…
“Compassion is nothing one feels with the intellect alone. Compassion is particular; it is never general….General compassion is useless. An aloof, general god is useless…It is still taught in some seminaries that it is a heresy to think that God can suffer with us. But what does the incarnation show us but the ultimate act of particularity? This is what compassion is all about.”

On creation and beauty…
“It is an extraordinary and beautiful thing that God, in creation uses precisely the same tools and rules as the artist; he works with the beauty of matter; the reality of things; the discoveries of senses, all five of them; so that we, in turn, may hear the grass growing; see a face springing to life in love and laughter; feel another human hand or the velvet of a puppy’s ear; taste food prepared and offered in love….Here in the offerings of creation, the oblations of story and song, are our glimpses of truth.”

These offerings remind me that books and movies are no substitute for living your own stories. But great writing and acting echo eternal truths that enrich our own, reminding us of the importance of living our own particular story to the fullest.

Bertie and Lionel teach me that going to the hard places with friends is worth it. Elizabeth teaches the quiet grace that can be had within a marriage filled with trials. And Madeleine reminds me that questions are OK and that God can always be found most readily right outside my back door.

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