Who would expect a relaxed movie day would bring me to my knees?
For the first day in a long while I had the opportunity to just veg out and relax. Baz did the shopping, my teenage son Luke, who’d been on an movie marathon at a friends was catching up on sleep. Buddy my indispensable robot vacuum was doing his thing so I didn’t have to and it was raining, so the washing could wait.
Pouring myself an obligatory morning coffee, I sat down to watch The Way, a movie starring Martin Sheen. It was made about 6 years ago and I’ve seen it before, but my friend Sandy lent it to me as she’d found it meaningful, so that was a good enough reason to revisit it. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s the very beautifully told story of a father who’s son dies while beginning a pilgrimage on the Camino Way in Spain. He goes to bring his son’s body home, but instead takes his ashes with him as he walks the Way, finally releasing them to the ocean at journey’s end.
I loved this movie and because I have a son myself, I found myself sobbing in empathy at the father who’d lost his boy, then sobbing at the poignancy as each character in the movie met themselves along the Way in moments that were at times difficult, touching and beautiful.
The depth of love and the fear of release
Following the movie my thoughts turned to my sister, who kept mum’s ashes for a long while before parting with some of them, yet still keeping some with her. I’m ashamed to say that immediately after mum died, I secretly thought it was a bit weird to keep someone’s ashes, particularly mum’s. Poor woman, give her body back to the Earth – her spirit’s already free, I thought. It never occurred to me that, while I was totally okay with having a continuing relationship with mum in my nighttime dreams, my sister who was much closer to her in many ways when she was alive, would need to cling to her physical remains for a while after she’d passed.
Only after watching the movie, as I sat staring out of the window at our rain forest in the front garden, did it occur to me that if something had happened to my son as it had happened to Martin Sheen’s character, I would not only be walking the Camino Way on my knees, but I would probably cleave to his ashes as if my own life depended on it. Whether I had dream contact with him or not, I could not, would not let go in one immediate and swift emptying of dust to the breeze.
So today I have experienced an unexpectedly found tenderness towards my sister that would not have surfaced had I not allowed the movie to carry me along an inner Camino journey of my own.
Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.