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Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Reflection

Father’s Day I sat and watched the ending of a movie from ten or so years back. “Tombstone”. It is a stylistic interpretation of the adventures and life of Wyatt Earp. Earp is played by the Disney icon of my childhood Kurt Russell that psychologically and emotionally adds a layer of identification.

These men are tough; hardened by the environment and the loose society of mostly men who seek out these rugged untamed places in mid 19th century America. Many fall to their basest animal instincts. Those who would settle and bring civilization … the money require that the animal be controlled; “Stage front” … the lawmen of the Wild West.

I can’t help but see this scenario as symbolic of the struggle of modern man. Instinctually we would grasp what we need and want and wrest it from the wilderness that is our environment. Civilization has it’s rules though so we learn to play within those rules like a helmeted warrior on the football gridiron or and agile dancer on the stage at the Met.

In the movie we are gifted with periodic peeks at the inner tenderness that is at the core of most men. We see that the beauty that comes to visit their harsh world softens them. We clearly recognize their loyalty and yes their love of one another as brothers in combat yet there is more.

To love another man is to know beyond any doubt that you can count on him. These men live in a world where should anyone falter in the support and courage that carries the unit forth … all may well fall. Here we see the symbol of man’s fall from grace. To give up … to lie down is to fail not only yourself but also your fellows.

The bible tells us “greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his fellows.” Here lies the only gift of war. Here lies the only gift of violence. Here lies the deepest truth of what we demand of our men.

Yet we ask them to be gentle. We ask them to bring forth vulnerability that in the world of men can bring the fall that these same men so desperately fear. So in “Tombstone”, in the end we see these men stand as the dust settles. Good has ultimately won and as they depart the brotherhood of battle one “gristled compadre” utters, “I just ain’t got the words to say, Wyatt.” Wyatt intones from glittering blue eyes and that walrus mustache of virility … “It ain’t necessary Bill.” The other man standing there meets the eyes of Earp, nods knowingly then turns and walks to his horse.

At last Earp is free to follow the love that wells up from the tenderness he has so long denied. He goes east and finds the beauty that had floated through his violent world so briefly yet had left possessing his heart.

This is a symbol of today’s modern man with his family. This is where we are required to bare our hearts in the vulnerability that so threatens who we are. If you can … forgive us; if you can give us room to learn each day who we are and where we belong, if you can love us then we will not falter.

If not … know this. We would be gentle but there are forces that strike at the core of our being. Our first job is to be warriors; to protect and defend and provide.

“Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his fellows.” These “fellows” are not only warriors on the field of combat but our family and our church … our coworkers and those less fortunate who need our help.

Let us though not lose sight of the fact that each man … each day struggles to balance the “beast and the beauty.” It is only through God’s love that we know the difference. It is only through God’s love that we persevere.

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