don’t leave your heart at the movies
I spent several hours tinkering with my computer the past few days, on the phone with apple technical support. Everyone I talked to there was very nice, but I’d rather have a working computer. I’m at the library using a public machine, and there is a foreign hair in a keyboard crevice, which I want to remove, but dare not touch. So if I’m behind on reading your blog or answering your e-mail, you know why.
Some friends– two couples, actually– volunteered to babysit Esme so that Jeff and I could go out on Valentine’s Day. It had been so long since we’d seen the inside of a movie theater, that we decided to plan our evening around a movie. The only good one playing, at least in South Bend, was Pan’s Labyrinth, so we went. Our plan was to come home afterward and watch Lost with our friends on television at 10 p.m. I should have known it would happen, but after it was all over and I went to bed, the themes and images that had passed before my eyes that night kept me wakeful, as Jeff snoozed peacefully beside me. I got up and wrote, wrote, wrote, since that is the only thing I know how to do when my mind is working that way. I wrote with a pen in a notebook, my laptop a cold lump of silver metal beside me. I felt disturbed by the scenes of cruelty in Pan’s Labyrinth involving the central antagonist, a Spanish military captain, who could make the gentlest saint entertain, for a split second, the thought of murder if it meant relieving the planet of his wickedness. In one evening, I saw people knifed, shot, beaten, bleeding, tortured, and desperate to escape some enemy– several times over. It made me feel as if danger was beating down the door of our apartment, in which a little baby lies sleeping in total vulnerability. This theme keeps reappearing on my blog, getting old, but I guess it reappears in my life too, which is why I rarely have an entire week of good sleep.
I finally had to remind myself that although the evil I saw was realistic in a sense, not fantastic, believable (sort of), it wasn’t my evil, exactly. One prayer of St. Philaret says: “We do not know what to ask of you, whether a cross or a consolation.” Crosses are probably as abundant as I suspect, but I have to believe in an arbiter or crosses, someone who distributes them in a reasonable, sensible manner, with consolations in between. The world is not just a chaos of torture, as I feel it is after several hours of movies and television. Somewhere in my teenage readings of C.S. Lewis I remember him saying that no one suffers all the pain in the world single-handedly, and that by itself makes the problem of pain in this world seem much more manageable.
I’m grateful that Lent is right around the corner. I’m ready for it. I will probably never swear off television and movies forever, but perhaps I need a break to allow myself to get in touch with the consolations of my life. Also, I don’t think God requires me to lose sleep over the problem of evil in the universe at large, only the problem of evil within me.