Friday, February 05, 2010

Helen Hunt Teaches me about God

It takes me a while to see all the movies I want to see. So it is no shock that I just saw the 2008 Helen Hunt/Colin Firth/Bette Midler film, "And Then She Found Me." One line in the film haunts me, grabs me by the scruff of the spirit and will not let go. "Dive in and blog me," it says. "Figure out why, later."

So here is the line. Helen Hunt is about to undergo a medical procedure she both wants and fears. She is normally a prayerful Jew, praying over big events with her whole heart. Yet she does not pray before this procedure. She is confronted by Bette Midler - her birth mother with whom she has been recently reunited. Bette is unlike her daughter spiritually, but worries when Hunt does not pray. Finally Hunt spills out how scared she is, and prays the Shema- Hear Oh Israel, the Lord is One....

She looks at her mother and says, with amazed finality - "The Lord of Love and the Lord of Fear -- are One," and then has the medical procedure done.

That line won't leave me -- "The Lord of Love and the Lord of Fear -- are One". I am not proposing that Helen Hunt is a theologian, but some deep truth is in that phrase.
Let's assume that God is one -- that whatever notion you have about a higher power is a unity, a single energy.

Bear with me as I wander through what this might mean. Please chime in with comments later.

I think we too often think we can only spiritually stand before our Higher Power in Love, not in Fear -- that we somehow have to be perfect, or at least serene, calm, well-adjusted to be spiritual, or to ask God/The Universe for anything.

We don't lay down our messiest self before our Higher Power. What kind of crummy offering would that be? I'm not attractive when I am angry, or screwed up or confused by life. When I cry I get all snuffly and snotty. I blow my nose and sound like a trombone out of pitch. I'm a smart cookie -- how vulgar is it for me to be unresolved, despairing, with no sense of direction? I need to fix that before I can face my God, my Higher Power, even myself.

Oh wrong, wrong, wrong!

The Higher Power in my life doesn't give a rat's patootie about whether or not I am all tidied up for a visit. God, The Universe, The Greatest Good, The Universal Energy Source -- whatever you call him/her/it -- does not wait for me to have my spiritual hair done, my life ordered.

In fact, I can throw my mess out there at God, my Higher Power, and ask for help. I can ask to be given a break, some help, some wisdom. I can appeal to whatever knows more than I do in the Universe at Large to help this messy, flawed, broken creature that we all are.

It's odd, isn't it, that what we cannot ask of people, we cannot ask of God. It's hard for me to be messy in front of people. Emotionally messy. Yet my dearest friends have seen me that way and somehow manage to still love me. And, well, DUH, could it be that God is the same -- that despite my flaws and failings I am loved even in the midst of them?

I don't think that is a light thing to say. That I am loved by God even when I am frightened or freaked out -- well, it's today's miracle on my list of Events of the Day.

Should I have learned that in 1st grade? Probably. In fact, I did. But I forget. I have to learn this over and over. And so I chant -- I am loved, you are loved, he/she is loved, we are loved, they are loved.

Maybe you don't believe in the same kind of deity that I do -- s'ok, plug in the blank how you are most comfortable. "The Intentional Universe", "The Life Force", "The Higher Power", "The Earth Energy"....whatever allows you to know that there is something bigger than you out there. Now realize that because of that you are not alone - ever - in any condition. You are loved, regarded as special, precious, and seen as a pearl of infinite worth. Even though life threatens to break you down, or rough you up, or make you sad and confused, there is Love that you can turn to --even in the midst of fear.

Does that solve everything? Make the problem go away? Would that it did, but you and I both know that it doesn't. But it does give comfort, and it can fuel hope. Love is the lifeline. The Lord of Love and the Lord of Fear ARE One.


Blogger Jayne said...

Oh, if you only knew how much I needed this today...
Thank you my friend for the reminder. Now, I am off to have a chat with the one who is always there. XOXOXO

7:10 AM  
Blogger iicchh said...

Well said. Says a tall, lutheran aquarius from Germany...
All the best!

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the story of when I learnt this lesson, or relearnt it, isn't it strange how many things we know as children we forget becoming adults?
One of my sisers had been my best friend since the day I was born. In my late 20's she wanted to buy a house, it was too big for her and she could really only afford it if my 2 sons and I moved in with her. So that's what we did, and it was one of the happiest times of my life. We got along very well, we were comfortable with each other, and were true friends as well as sisters. My children adored their Auntie, she was a parent to them in the best sense, she loved them unconditionally, and had complete faith in them, but didn't have to worry that they wouldn't turn out okay, that was my problem.

Then 5 years after we started living together, she died suddenly at age 38 of a stroke, and I was lost, heartbroken, alone dealing with 2 bereft little boys and seriously PISSED at God. We needed her, and it wasn't fair, or right or anything I could even begin to deal with.

About 6 months after she died, I was still stuck in that anger and denial, and one of my neighbours saw me out on my front porch (sitting and brooding) and came to talk to me. She is an elderly Ukranian woman, (so everything she says, do the accent) and she brought over an old thermos of lemonaid and sat down and told me how much she missed seeing my sister in our yard, "Such a beautiful girl, such beautiful blond hair, such a joyfull laugh, so in love with your boys!" and it all came out, I started to BAWL, and it all just spilled out of me. The anger and the bitterness at God, all of it.
She listened to it all and then said, "My Great-granddaughter, she has a saying that makes me laugh, she says - put on your big-girl panties - when someone must do something unpleasant. You go on and be mad at God, God, she is always wearing her big-girl panties!"

Which is about the most helpfull and healing thing anyone has ever said to me about the nature of God. She is always wearing her big girl panties, and will deal with whatever unpleasantness you need to get rid of.


3:13 AM  
Blogger Mata H said...

Neen, God Bless you for this!! Thank you so much for sharing it. "Big Girl Panties"...I love it!!!

3:14 PM  
Blogger Brad Rappaport said...

Great observation. The insight expressed by the Helen Hunt character is taken for granted by the Jews. It's only when you have new blood come along and declare that they want to play with the older kids that it becomes necessary for the older ones judiciously to allow the fear to be thrown into relief as something for the older set and the love to be handed out to the new kids like candy. When they get older, they discover the truth for themselves.

11:47 PM  

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