Friday, September 21, 2007

Tears for Edmund...tears for Me

I just got through watching "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" for the third time this morning. As I sat in my RV...what I call home right now, I was surprised (and not) to find hot, burning tears running down my cheeks throughout the movie. It is a beautiful story by C.S. Lewis, actually the entire series of "The Chronicles of Narnia" are so magical and teach such a wonderful lesson of life here on planet earth. I didn't read the series until the summer before I went into prison...a mere three years ago. And in fact, I had never heard of the books until I was 46 years old. I'm sure there was a reason for the delay, as there always is in the grander scheme of things. For if I'd read the books when I was a child, I may not have revisited them as an adult, when I really needed to learn the lessons that Lewis was teaching through his writing.

As I watched the movie again today, I thought about the characters. The casting director for the movie did an amazing job in choosing the actors for each part, especially Peter and Edmund. I recall as I read the book, I pictured myself more like Peter. I think most boys, and men, would. After all, who doesn't want to be the "Magnificent" king. In the movie, he looks like a young Prince William, future king of England. Striking, handsome, blonde, noble. I'm sure there are other adjectives. While at times he is uncertain, he always seems to come through as the hero. He made the right decisions at the right time. He was brave at just the right time. He was fearless when he needed to be fearless. He's who I wanted to be as boy. In my dreams, he is who I would have chosen to be..."Peter, the Magnificent."

But life isn't like that. And that is why the tears came again today. The first two times I watched this movie, I was in prison. And you probably would not be surprised to know that it isn't a very good idea for a grown man to find himself in tears watching a family movie in prison. The other men there would like at you kind of strangely...and perhaps dangerously. But today, I just let them flow. I've always found myself crying easily at movies, especially those involving children. And even more so when there is something about the plot and story line that reminds me something of my own hurts or pains or memories. The tears today were for Edmund. Today, for the first time maybe, I saw myself clearly in his character...and it broke my heart.

If you look deep into the character, you can see the pain in his life. His dad is gone, maybe never to return. He is the third of four children. There is an older brother who seems to know it all, and tries to step in and take charge. He's an angry young man, and he's probably not even sure why. And, he's a liar and traitor. I can look at myself in the mirror and see my life in his. My tears started today as he ventured into Narnia for the first time and encounter the White Witch. She claimed to be something she wasn't and offered him something, Turkish Delight, that he craved. It's not so different from discovering the pleasures I discovered as a thirteen year old. It became an insatiable desire, a thirst I would do most anything to quench.

The tears continued to flow as he lied to Peter and Susan when he and Lucy came back from Narnia the first time. Like mine had so many times, his lies flowed so easily. He had a secret, and he felt he had to do anything, including lying, to keep it that way. The sting of the tears were for the inner pain and turmoil you could see in his eyes...at least I could because I've felt them before. Every major scene Edmond was in brought a new round of tears. The humiliation of having to wear the "girls" fur coat and the way Peter made him feel like it was an appropriate for of attire for him...striking at the heart of his young, developing masculinity. The fear he had when he finds himself in the prison of the White Witch, in chains. Chains of bondage brought on by his reckless desire for the Turkish Delight. I've had my own chains...the chains of impure desires, pornography and masturbation.

One of the most powerful scenes in the entire movie is when Edmund is standing at the top of the hill, his head down in shame, facing Aslan. At times, I think Edmund is braver in that scene than I've been many times in my life, but I can thank God that I was eventually brought to that place. The place where I finally faced my past, all of the demons and the mistakes. Edmund slowly walks down the hill, his brother and sisters waiting for him. His head still hanging, embarrassed...not knowing what to say. Aslan saves him from the apology...telling them that the past is past and there's no need to talk about it. As Edmund's sisters walk up, smiling and hugging him, the tears flow harder...waiting. For what? Peter. What will he do? What will become of the relationship with his brother? It's not what I had hoped for...not what I would have needed if I was Edmund at that point. There's no hug...no "glad to see back home and safe"...not even a smile at first. Peter tells him to go get some rest, and then as Edmund walks away, a slight joke about not wandering off again. It brought a smile to Edmund, but not to me.

I almost found myself sobbing, and I had to ask myself why? What was it that I needed...or that I need now...that brought the wracking in my chest? I believe it is simply relationship. Like every human, I needed to be a part of a family. To feel loved. To feel needed. To feel like I belong. But sin has such a terrible power to take all of that away. It isolated me, even from myself. Certainly from those that I loved the most, and those that loved me.

Finally, the tears came as Peter and Edmund learn of the death of Aslan. They weren't tears for Aslan...I know how the story ends. But it was for Edmund, as he finally gets it. And for Peter, who finally becomes the king he was destined to be. The scene shows Edmund and Peter talking, and Edmund telling Peter that he must lead the army into battle against the armies of the White Witch. Peter says that he can't do it, but Edmund finally understands. He understands because he has already received the gift...the gift of forgiveness, from Aslan. And in his own way, he passes that gift on to Peter. He tells Peter that Aslan believed Peter could lead them to victory, and that he did too. It was such a profound moment. All of the anger and frustration that Edmund had toward his brother was gone. His forgiveness for every pain that Peter had caused him, intentionally or not, were forgiven. And my heart cried at that, because that's where I find myself. In a state of complete forgiveness. Forgiveness toward my parents, toward those who abused me as a child, for myself.

That forgiveness is such a gift from God. It allows me to sit here today and write this. Without the forgiveness, the words would be full of hatred and bitterness. I pray that they are not. I pray that through all that I write in these entries, my heart is revealed. My heart is healed. I'm not alone in my pain...there are so many who have faced much greater adversity than I have. There are those who have paid terrible prices for the sins of others...I know that only too well.


After I finished watching the movied this morning, I put the DVD back in...and I watched it again. The tears didn't come the second time. I don't believe it was because I was "cried out." No, as I watched the second time, I understood. I saw who I was...who I had been. I think if we are all honest with ourselves, we would all have to admit we are more like Edmund that we are like Peter. And, surprising, I'm glad that I can see that. And I'm proud in a way that I was like Edmund at both the beginning of the story and at the end. He was transformed from a liar and traitor to a friend...a brother... a hero. So today, as I watched...and cried...I shed those tears for Edmund, and I shed them for me.


1 comment:

Deb said...

The most powerful writing yet, Mark. I love how you saw yourself in Edmund and I'm so happy at the insights and healing you've found here. I'm wondering how you're handling your forgiveness for the hero brother in your life.