Reflecting on the previous year (in this case, 2013) is something many people do at this time of year. For me, I thought of the movie "The Sand Pebbles" and Steve McQueen's character Jake Holman.
First, I'd like to give my kudos to Steve McQueen. When I was a kid, he was the coolest guy on the planet. I loved watching him in movies like Bullitt (cop), The Great Escape (soldier), and The Magnificent Seven (gunfighter). From what I heard, he was an avid motorcycle rider which I could really appreciate as well. He also fits into the quintessential American template: tough, cynical, rebellious, resourceful, and gritty. For some reason guys like him, Clint Eastwood, Humphrey Bogart, and yes, Bug Bunny resonate with me.
"I was home. What happened? What the hell happened?"
Jake Holman: The Sand Pebbles
Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
One of the most obvious things that both Holman and I experience is pain. In the past few years I've been trying more and more to live by my heart. That can have incredible highs like the awesomeness of holding Maddie, my granddaughter. It also means fully feeling the depth of pain. Holman's quote is his dying words and shows his longing for what is safe and familiar. I kept remembering this quote during some of my dark times this year. Holman is shot and killed in a foreign country basically behind enemy lines - home will never again be his. For me, I had to let go of my childhood home when we sold it after my dad's passing. Sometimes in the shock of pain you will wonder just what is going on; that happened quite often for me this year.
|My Childhood Home|
We all try to avoid pain. We insulate ourselves from it, deny it and medicate ourselves from it. I'm being taught right now to try find the positives in pain. It's a hard process since pain is sometimes unbearable. I know that pain is one of God's most powerful teachers and in some way His love can shine through it. I admit that I am truly still learning how to apply this. Somewhere inside of the pain we can find some rays of light into the reasons behind what is happening.
I was once told that Jake Holman's name has a double meaning. By the end of the film he has in fact become a much more "whole man". The simple questions and denial of the heart are slowly replaced with new feelings, thoughts and ideals. He is much more in touch with his heart because of the combat, conflict and loss he has experienced. My hope is (as I bid farewell to 2013) is that perhaps my personal growth mirrors his (I'd also like to hope I'm just as cool as he is too!): a Whole Man.
Finally, Happy New Year, 2014 to all! May you find God's path to wholeness each and every day.