Saturday, May 24, 2014

Time to come on out of the shadow - The Legend of Bagger Vance (Part 2 of 2)

In the movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Bagger Vance, the mystical caddie, helps a young golfer and a lone survivor of a horrific battle in Word War I, Rannulph Junah find his "authentic" golf swing. The author of the book that the movie came from acknowledged that the character and legend of Bagger Vance is based on a Hindu epic and scriptural poem. As Pope John Paul II said "that we must recognize 'the seeds of the Word' present and active in the various religions," I feel that not only should we be open to finding truths or 'seeds of the Word' that touch the core of what it means to be human in most faiths but also in the many forms of media. 

In this scene of The Legend of Bagger Vance Junuh has hit a wayward tee shot and the ball lands in a cluster of trees. As Junuh sweeps away the branches of a tree looking for his ball, he is immediately transported back to a tragic moment in his life. 

Junuh begins to sweat and look around nervously as his mind replays scenes of war.  We only hear the sounds of guns and soldiers dying. Junuh begins to shake uncontrollably and almost collapses to the ground. His eyes stare at the golf ball as his hands grasp at his knees to fortify not only his body but his soul. 

We sense, as Junuh begins to reach down with the intention of picking up the golf ball, that he is giving up on the game, on life. This scene could be seen as a metaphor on how we often fall prey to the many other voices running around in our heads that keep us focusing on failures and a past we cannot change leading us to feel that life is but one heavy burden after another. 

Junuh is bent over feeling the terror and the weight of trying to please all the voices in his head. And then out of nowhere, a voice breaks into this haunting but all too real scene... 

Bagger Vance, “You gonna to be wantin’ a different club der Jonah?”
Junah (breathing heavily), “I can’t do this.”
Bagger Vance, “Why don’t you jus loose the grip up a smidge. You know a man’s grip on his club is like a man’s…”
Junah (as he interupts Bagger), “It is not what I am talking about.”
Bagger Vance, “I know.”
Junah, “No, you don’t!”
Bagger Vance, “What I am talking about is a game. A game that can’t be won only played.”
Junah, “You don’t understand.”
Bagger Vance, “I don’t need to understand. Ain’t a soul on this entire earth that ain’t got a burdern to carry he don’t understand. You ain’t alone in that. You’ve been carrying this one long enough. Time to go on and lay it down.”
Junah (desperately), “I don’t know how.”
Bagger Vance, “You gotta choice. You can stop or you can start.”
Junah, “Start?”
Bagger Vance, “Walkin.”
Junah, “Where?”
Bagger Vance, “Right back to where you always been. Then stand there... Still … real still … and remember.”
Junah, “It’s too long ago.”
Bagger Vance, “Ahhh ... no sir … it was just a moment ago... (Junuh looks in amazement at Bagger, in part because those very words were what his former girlfriend had spoken to him earlier in the day, words that Bagger could never have overheard.)... Time for you to come on out the shadows Junah. Time for you to choose …”
Junah, “I can’t!”
Bagger Vance, “Yes you can! But you ain’t alone. I am right here wich ya. I’ve been here all along… Now play the game… your game… the game that only you was meant to play… the one that was given to you when you come into this world… 
(as Bagger hands Junah a club) "… you ready? (Junah takes the club) Go on take your stance. Strike that ball Junah. Don’t hold nothin back. Give it everything. Now is the time. Let yourself remember… remember yo swing. That’s right Junah, settle yourself (as Junah begins to relax, settling into a peaceful stance). Let’s go. Now is the time Junah.”
Now's the time to come on out of the shadow

For me this scene rips the veil between being just a movie and inviting us into something greater... This scene drew me in with sweaty palms and racing heart remembering the pains of my past, remembering my own failures, remembering my defeats, remembering my sins and remembering the wounds I caused. 

Yet, while still down on my knees, a Voice came to me... a calming voice inviting me to come out of the shadow... calling me to re-member, to stop forgetting that I am not on my own and that Christ is with me always. 

"RE" is a prefix indicating restoration or binding back: "MEMBER" indicates being part of a whole. 'Remembering' is not just a recalling of historical detail, it means deeper understanding - to see that we are all members of Something Greater - of Another Other calling us out of the shadows and into the Light. 

As Junuh ever-so-cautiously allows his trust to be restored allowing him to lay his burden down, he is faced with the challenge that Bagger confronts him (and us who are making this journey with Junuh) - that we must act. We must act on that trust and have faith or be swallowed up by bitterness, distractions and eventually resentment. We must reach out and take His hand, just like Junuh reaches out and takes the club Bagger holds out for him. As Junah in the movie, we also must reach out - reaching out of ourselves to find our calling in life. 

Everyone's path in life meanders inevitably through rough terrain where we are challenged to love and forgive; where choosing freedom, grace and reconciliation can lead us out of the shadows so we can experience the beauty and joy that Life is overflowing with. It is here where we find our authentic life (our authentic swing).

Link here to Part 1 - Time to come on out of the shadow 

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