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Reel Life Journeys

Fear of loss can drive you to the Dark Side

“I won’t lose you like I lost my mother.” Anakin Skywalker to his wife Padmè in Star Wars Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith

When we are faced with losing someone we love, we can respond in many different ways.

Some people freeze, overcome by the fear and unsure what to do next. Some people block it out and avoid the issue. Some people just hope everything works out by itself. Some people try to do everything humanly possible to prevent the loss from occurring.

For Anakin Skywalker in the most recent Star Wars film, the fear drives him down a darker path.

As an only child to a single parent, Anakin was very close to his Mother, calm and happy in her presence. He has the same relationship with his wife Padmè, who gives Anakin the unconditional love he desperately desires.

But Anakin is tormented by Darth Sidious with death-filled nightmares, first about his mother and then his wife. These nightmares keep alive the fear in him that he will lose the person he most dearly loves.

This fear proves to be the acid that dissolves Anakin’s Jedi training. Motivated by the belief that he can cheat death and keep Padmè alive, Anakin grows in hate and strength within the Dark Side of the Force.

Anakin rationalizes that this new power was created out of love for Padmè, but his fear of losing her fuels his quest for power and he is sucked into a deepening spiral of anger and hate until he ultimately becomes Darth Vader.

The seductive path of the Dark Side is described by Master Yoda to Luke in Episode V: “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering (and the Dark Side). Only when you are at peace can the Force flow through you and give you strength.”

Peace. Pause for a moment and say the word again. Peace. By taking time during our busy days for a few moments of prayer and peace, we can feel God’s presence in our own lives.

But is it possible to be at peace when we are faced with the emotional challenges and our own fears of losing someone we dearly love?

If you are a young Baby Boomer like me, you are also a member of the “Sandwich Generation.” This group of people is in the middle of two big cares: caring for our elderly parents at the end of their lives and caring for our children at the beginning of theirs.

I worry about my parents’ health, often feeling helpless to assist them with their illnesses. There are times when I wish I had enough money or time or living space to take care of them. But how much do I do to help them get well and how much do I put into God’s hands?

On the other end, I worry about my daughter who will leave soon to start college. It’s hard to imagine her away from home for many months. She adds so much goodness and life to our home (plus a good dose of teenage angst and nonsensical arguments!) How will I get through my days without her presence? How will I keep her safe? How much do I put into God’s hands?

It comes down to a matter of faith – faith in others, faith in ourselves, faith in God. Anakin struggled with his faith in the Force and staying true to his Jedi values, but the allure of power was too strong and he was consumed by the Dark Side.

For me, I will encourage my parents to get good health information, but they need to take the real steps themselves. For my daughter, I can help prepare her for the college experience, but she will have to make some of her own decisions. With emails and phone calls, I can be close by.

“Let go Luke, use the Force,” says the spirit of Obi-Wan in Episode IV as he convinces Luke to turn off the targeting computer and use the Force to guide his blasts to destroy the Death Star. He very easily could have said, “Let go Luke, trust in God.”

In the movies, there is usually a happy ending. In real life, it’s not very tidy or certain, and many times we lose the ones we love. First we are afraid and then we are angry. These are natural, human emotions. But if we let go of our fears and trust in God, we will be closer to being at peace and knowing His Way, and can deal with our losses on Earth.



First published in the June 17, 2005 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2005 Christopher Fenoglio.

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