In each Reel Life Journeys column, I try to illustrate a moral theme or Christian teaching with examples from films and family life.
I often use examples from science fiction and fantasy films, as I really enjoy the complexity and symbolism found in The Lord of the Rings, Superman, Back to the Future, etc.
Lately, however, I have enjoyed a genre of film that some may label as pure fantasy—romantic comedies. Granted, some of the plot devices are rather far-fetched. Would you really fly from Baltimore to Seattle to meet an insomniac with a nice radio voice? But these are very entertaining films that touch on fundamental human needs—to love and to be loved.
The next time you watch these films, think about the love lessons contained within.
After another sleepless night in Seattle, Sam recounts the magical moment when he took his wife’s hand as she was getting out of a cab. It’s probably the same feeling he feels when he takes Annie’s hand as they leave the Observation Desk of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day.
The spark of romance, a magical moment happens all the time when couples get together. Keeping the romance alive, however, takes kindness, communication and an active decision to love one another.
Asleep under shooting stars, I dream of a love unseen, a prayer yet unanswered.
When Harry met Sally, there was no magic or mutual attraction. They didn’t even think it was possible for a man and a woman to be true friends without a sexual relationship present. But friends they become, true friends who look after and support each other. Later, when their own love blossoms, it is based upon a solid foundation of friendship and support.
Over the hills comes the dawn, a soft and warm glow that pushes the night away and wakes my world.
Mary Hatch always had a hard time deciding what ice cream to order at Mr. Gower’s Drugstore. She was content to just listen to the boy behind the counter talk about exploring foreign lands, building tall skyscrapers and making lots of money to enjoy the finer things of life.
Unfortunately, he never gets the opportunities to travel, to design and create, or make a lot of money. Yet Mary always believes in him and supports him throughout their wonderful life together. “George Bailey,” she whispers into his bad ear, “I’ll love you ‘till the day I die.”
High into the morning sky climbs the light, creating new life and fulfilling my dreams.
It was difficult for Cathy and Caleb to live in the same house without angry arguments breaking the stone-cold silence. Both are successful in their stressful jobs—Cathy receives high praise for her hospital PR work while Caleb is a leader at the fire hall. But neither does a very good job at fireproofing their marriage. Their competing egos are two sparks that threaten to consume their union in flames.
Fortunately, they don’t give up. Caleb takes the Love Dare and finds new ways to relate to his wife. More importantly, he rediscovers his own faith. Once he knows the love of Jesus the Christ in his heart, Caleb is able to share it with his wife. Together they base their relationship on this everlasting love, an unquenchable fire that powers their marriage. (Fireproof is not a comedy, but a dramatic film every married couple should watch together.)
In the heat of mid-day shadows disappear, roots grow deep, and faces turn up to bathe in the love.
Noah doesn’t give up either. He fell in love the first time he saw Allie at the county fair. He stays in love with her even when she leaves town to marry a rich, well-connected lawyer. Noah remains at home and rebuilds his house.
When Allie returns, they consecrate their love in marriage and build a family. Even as they grow older and Allie stops remembering who he is, Noah still loves and cares for her. He sits in her room each day and reads the stories of their youth from his notebook. He waits for the magical moment when she will recognize him again and they can reconnect the love in their two hearts.
The light of this love is reflected from our faces onto our family and friends.
My wife and I recently celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, a milestone reached undoubtedly with the help of the love lessons from these films. At our wedding, I sang “Ave Maria” as Linda placed a rose on Mary’s altar. We both asked Our Blessed Mother for her guidance, strength and love. We share this faith and love with each other, an eternal bond between us like the circular rings we wear.
Thank you, Linda, for the magic, the friendship, the support, the hard work and faithful love after all these years. Always remember… I love you.
There are still ages to live and miles to go until the long day closes. Hand in hand we’ll walk our real life journey, together in the Light.
First published in the May 15, 2009 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2009 Christopher Fenoglio