Last night, as I struggled to get to sleep, I happened to turn the television on to catch the last part of The Shawshank Redemption. If you haven’t seen the film, let me just tell you that it is incredible. I believe this movie is at least in my top five if not top three favorite films of all time. I think what intrigues me the most is the dialogue, especially from ‘Red’ (Morgan Freeman). There is a scene in the film when Red talks about the institutionalization process and the toll is takes on an inmate. He describes that when one first enters into a prison, they “hate the walls” and the bondage that ensues from them, however, as the inmate begins to lose sight of how the real world operates and loses touch with society, the inmate will begin to clutch tightly to the walls that he once hated so dearly. It becomes the only reality that he knows. The walls eventually become a safe haven from the outside world.
I think that this is really an allegory of my life. Most of my sins are addictions (being a creature of habit), and yet as I began these things they were not addictions. They were actions, and they were acted out of desire. Initially, I enjoyed and hated (through guilt and shame) these sins, but at some point they gave me a comfort that I thought was real. I thought they could satisfy me. But that is where the imprisonment begins, as I began to embrace my sin, my sin began to enslave me. My habits became obsessions and everything and everyone became obstacles to what I really desired. The truly wonderful things of this world became ugly to me and the things that deteriorate the soul became beautiful to me.
I think much of what Jesus does is to expose the truly horrendous things in us and in our world and to show us what is truly beautiful and vital to life. Another example of this comes in the aforementioned film when Andy Defresne (Tim Robbins), while in the warden’s office, turns on the prison PA system and plays a vinyl disc of two female opera singers singing together. Red and the other inmates don’t know what to make of it other than the fact that what they hear is absolutely breathtaking. Suddenly this prison, filled with the tedious and dreary lives of its inmates, becomes enlivened and the world as they all knew it was changed. I think that this a great image of what Christ can do in our lives. I often feel that life is tedious and boring, and yet there are moments when Jesus steps into the middle of my mess and awakens me to what is truly wonderful. This may seem a little basic but even after years of trying to live this out, the message is still often the same. I think I am just a really slow learner.
Update: On a side note, Heather bought a couple of goldfish and graciously let me name one of them. I, in respect to C.S. Lewis, named the fish Clive. She wonderfully named the other Scout, out of appreciation to the wonderful character in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.