“You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”
– C.S. Lewis –
This past weekend two very different event’s, totally unrelated, came together to make a big impact on me.
It wasn’t until this weekend that I finally got around to seeing the Academy Award winning film, Dallas Buyers Club. I do recommend the movie – a cautious recommendation, because the movie is rated R, a ‘hard R,’ for language, nudity, sex, drug use and subject matter.
Matthew McConaughey’s portrayal of Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient in the 1980’s, certainly deserved the Academy award. Although there may be questions as to how accurate McConaughey’s character portrayed the real life Woodroof, that doesn’t really matter.
The film script and McConaughey’s interpretation of Woodroof present a man who, at the beginning of the film, finds out he has AIDS and is given 30 days to live. From there he challenges this ‘death sentence’ and drives forward through a journey of survival. Along the way the character changes his attitude and outlook toward the gay community. He transforms from being self-centered and shameless, to become quite compassionate and understanding.
The movie is an amazing depiction of courage, compassion and growth.
This weekend I also attended a memorial service for my friend Jarre, a woman who died a few weeks ago from a brain tumor. She had been diagnosed with the tumor not long ago and within a few short months she passed away.
At the memorial service my pastor said that of all the people he had dealt with having to face death with a terminal illness, Jarre had the most courage. It was so true. Jarre was not worried about death. She was confident in a loving God who would welcome her. Jarre was certain that the place to which she was headed is a place of eternal peace and joy.
She received her prognosis, not in denial, but as she had always faced life, with boldness, surrounded by an abundance of laughter. There was never, and I mean never, a time that I spent with Jarre that we didn’t laugh – a lot! Oh, she could be, and often was very serious, never afraid of speaking the truth. But in every interaction with friend or stranger, Jarre expressed love and compassion, along with a good deal of laughter, guaranteed to lift ones spirit.
Although Dallas Buyers Club is a very serious film, it did have a few scenes that were pretty funny. And whenever I think of Jarre – well, laughter just comes with the territory. Both McConaughey’s portrait of Woodroof and my friend Jarre inspire me to recommit myself to living each day courageously, truthfully, compassionately – and always with as much laughter as can be squeezed into each moment.
“Feathers filled the small room. Our laughter kept the feathers in the air. I thought about birds. Could they fly is there wasn’t someone, somewhere, laughing?”
– Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close