Thursday, January 24, 2008

Peas and Carrots

We were like peas and carrots, Jenny and I.
Forest Gump
"Peas and Carrots" was the title of Associate Pastor Dennis Guillon's message on Wednesday night. It was an outstanding message in composition, content, and execution. And I don't say that very often. His stated goal was to help a little in the understanding of God's love for His creatures and particularly us humans.

So Pastor Dennis used "Forest Gump" (the 1994 movie from the 1986 book) as an aid in illustrating certain aspects of love. He played clips from the movie.

Tom Hanks is one gifted actor. That's one thing I thought. The first clip was the one where Forest meets Jenny for the first time on the school bus. She invites him to sit beside her and he falls head over heels in love with her from that first moment. Later Forest and Jenny kind of hang out with each other. Jenny wants Forest to stay at one point when they are up in this tree watching the stars. Forest wonders about that and then we learn that Jenny's home life is terrible and her father is abusing her and his other children. Forest and Jenny are in this field and Jenny prays that God turn her into a bird so she can fly away. Forest says that God didn't turn her into a bird but sent the police to take her to live with her grandmother. Forest was happy about that because she lived closer to him he says.

Later on in the movie, several times, Forest and Jenny are reunited through various and seemingly impossible circumstances. And each time Forest rescues Jenny or tries to and tells her that he loves her. And each time Jenny is thankful but spurns Forest's advances. And Forest is ever the gentleman and respects her wishes. He isn't happy about it but he honors her person by acceding to her wishes. I thought that was in rather sharp contrast to some of the other men that Jenny is involved with who treat her terribly. There are a lot of things about Forest Gump that are not very true to real life. But that particular thing isn't one of them in my experience. At one point Jenny tells Forest that he doesn't know what love is. Of course it is obvious that Forest does know and it is Jenny who doesn't.

Forest goes on to say he isn't a very smart man but he knows what love is. I thought that was interesting because I do think that love and intelligence don't necessarily go together. Some of the sweetest, most loving people I've met were people who used to be called retarded. Even funnier was the fact that everyone recognized how sweet they were. And some of the smartest people I've known have been the least loving.

Before the message Pastor Dennis asked us to get together with our neighbors in groups of 3 or 4 or 5 and to pray for one another. So I moved down to this little group in front of me and to the right. It was a young woman with two young children and an older lady. The older lady was older than me I think but honestly she could have been closer to my age than I want to believe. The younger woman's name was the same as mine. I introduced myself to each one and offered my hands. The younger took my right with her left and with her other she took the little girl's left hand. The older lady should have taken my hand. I was standing and she was seated. She reached her right hand for the younger woman's hand. I looked down into her face. And I saw that look of confusion that I have too frequently seen before. I offered my hand but she was confused about it and reluctant so I allowed my left hand to rest upon her right shoulder but only so lightly. She seemed okay with that.

In an instant I thought "Alzheimer's" to myself. I don't know that of course because we prayed and I went back to where I'd been sitting and we never spoke again. The children colored and I noticed they showed the older lady their work. It may have been some other kind of dementia or it may have been something else entirely. The younger lady sat right next to the older. The older lady had a certain dependence upon the younger. I don't know exactly how I know that but I do and I know it very well.

I thought that was interesting that I would experience that just before a sermon dealing with God's love.

Later on Jenny sends for Forest and tells him she is sick. He tells her that he will take care of her. And she asks him to marry her and they do and then she dies. He buries her under the tree they played on as children.

Of course Pastor Dennis left out a lot of stuff from the movie that was inappropriate for our audience and that didn't advance his theme.

But still it was a great message. I think human love is one of those things that is hard to know in the first place and God's love is orders of magnitude above that. It's a little like the wind in that you can't really see it but you see the effects of it.

In the Bible it says that God loved us while we were yet sinners. (But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8) Forest's love for Jenny was certainly not dependent upon Jenny's actions or her health or even whether or not she returned his affection.

I thought all those improbable, chance meetings of Forest and Jenny was good, too. I look back over my life and that's exactly how it has been with me and God. Over and over again I'd reject Him and over and over again He would show up and usually help me out of some scrape or another. Certainly improbable circumstances in my life kept bringing us together. I know a lot of people like that, too, that have had their own improbable circumstances. Some of them have decide God's real and moved in with Him. Most of them haven't though.

Anyway it was a really good message.


nancy said...

what a wonderful post terry! forest gump has always been a favorite movie of mine for much of what you described. i think from what you said, pastor dennis did a great job of drawing analogies of the movie with what God wants for us.

i'm also pretty sure that your gut feeling was probably pretty true with the elderly woman you encountered. you didn't live 9 years with AD not to have great intuition about it.

thanks too for continuing to post. i would sure miss not being able to hear from you, yet would also understand. you made my day! (oh, that's another movie...LOL)

arutherford said...

Terry, I continue to read your blog but usually don't post. I would sure miss you if you stopped posting.

What a beautiful way to preach about God's love. So simple and yet we make it so hard. I think your radar will always be tuned to those suffering from dementia. And God will use you to show kindness and compassion for each one He places in your path.

As I was reading your blog I thought I should tell you about a movie I watched last night that I bet you would really like and get a lot from. It's called "Peaceful Warrior" with Nick Nolte and a young man who was excellent. Nick plays the young man's mentor and slowly teaches him about living in the moment; finding joy in the journey; observing life as something is always happening if we but take the time to observe. It's just loaded with wisdom and very well done. Let me know if you rent it and watch it and what you think.

Keep on keeping on and may God bless you real good.

Lori1955 said...

Wonderful post Terry. I know it was certainly improbable circumstances that brought me back to God. Someone once told me "If you feel far from God, guess who moved."

You were probably right about that woman in church. I think it is kind of sad that we are so intuned to that. Sigh.

*(·¸*Chris*¸·)* said...

Once again an awesome post. Forrest Gump is one of my favorite movies. So many lessons to be learned.

~Betsy said...

Great writing, Terry. Your Pastor is very tuned in as are you when it comes to the vacant AD look. I guess, sadly, we all are. Forest Gump is one of those movies I watch over and over when I catch it on TV.

Thanks for sharing.

*(·¸*Chris*¸·)* said...

LoL, We were out renting movies tonight and I saw Forest Gump and thought of you, Terry. We didn't rent it but you immediately came to mind.:)