The movie, “Secondhand Lions” has been showing on one of the Dish Network movie channels this month. It’s a coming of age story, told by Walter, a young boy whose uncaring mother drops him off to live with his eccentric great uncles. The first time I saw the movie, I was pulled into the character Hub, played by Robert Duval. While both of the uncles had their share of adventure in their youth, it is Hub’s story that is shared in bits and pieces through the movie.
Robert Duval picks the greatest movie roles. Or maybe they pick him. Duval crafts an apparently cynical and discontented old man, but through the storytelling in the movie, we learn of Hub’s true character and passions – the truth he holds dear. We learn this as he shares his credo with young Walter, at a time when everything appears to be falling apart for Walter:
“Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies. You remember that, boy. You remember that. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.” -Hub, “Secondhand Lions” (2003)
How very much like this other man whose lessons I’ve come to admire: Paul. Recall that ‘Paul’ is the converted Christian, formerly known as ‘Saul,’ who despised and disciplined disciples of Christ. He had his share of cynicism and discontent! Upon his miraculous conversion to Christianity, Paul shared many stories, letters, and credos. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul sums up for us how we can find peace:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil 4:8-9, NIV)
In each of these lessons, we hear that love is the answer. My life is better when I believe in the good. When I think on these things, I remember that God has made each of his children with a good and loving spirit. That we are human, and sometimes veer off course – that is a daily challenge: for ourselves and for how we live with others.
At this annual time of renewal, I encourage you to think on these things. As noted by John Wesley, we hold dear certain duties to ourselves and to each other:
When I think on these things, I renew my commitment to love according to the example of Christ. I renew my hope in humanity: that we will do what is right, what is true, what is honest, what is just, and what is pure. For ourselves, and for each other. And I am at peace. Because those things are worth believing in.
Happy New Year, to my friends.