Sunday, November 25, 2012

Never Stop!


“Nothing was going to stop me, not even myself.” says young Oskar Schell, as he embarks on a hero’s quest to keep his father’s memory alive. This line is from the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, adapted from a novel by Jonathan Safran Foers. It stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, and my experience of it was so powerful I wanted to share the impact.

Oskar is a lonely eleven year old reeling from the death of his father at the World Trade Center in 9/11. When he wanders into his father’s closet a year after his death yearning to inhale even a scent of the bond he had with his dad, he inadvertently breaks a vase and discovers inside a tiny envelope with a key.  The envelope is marked ‘Black’ and knowing his dad’s love of games and puzzles Oskar is now committed to find the Black to whom the key belongs. There are 472 people named Black in New York’s five boroughs and his every waking moment is spent charting the course of this adventure.  

Wearing his heart on his sleeve he begins to meet and connect with the Blacks in the world of New York. His belief that if he can find what the key fits he will be able to keep his dad alive inside himself just a little while longer, propels him to such tender open exposure with these strangers that his invitation to vulnerability is met with authentic connection. Somewhere, one of these Blacks holds the key to his heart. They hold a hope that he can forget what he calls, 'the worst day', the day his world…our world…was shaken and seared with pain. 

While alive his dad’s message was ‘never stop looking’ and taking this to heart the odyssey unfolds. This journey is not an easy one for Oskar. Shaking with anxiety he bangs his tambourine to calm himself and just keeps walking into his fears muttering “I’m free, I’m free,” a mantra of solace in a world filled with shadows.

He forces himself to overcome all obstacles, his fear of subways, walking across bridges, and most of all a fear of people. “Every day is a miracle,” writes his mysterious grandfather who doesn’t speak, instead using the words yes and no tattooed on the palms of his hands to aid communication.  “I don’t believe in miracles” says Oskar. And yet as, he touches lives, he touches souls and his crusade holds a miracle in every step.

Whenever Oskar is feeling depressed and forlorn he says that he is wearing, “heavy boots”.  He knows the likelihood of finding what the key fits is slim and yet he will not give up. Profoundly touching, this film marks you and leaves an imprint.

Who among us does not at times feel like we are wearing heavy boots? Who has not felt loss and faced that sense of an abyss at the crossroads of choosing between love and fear? This little boy is at that crossroad daily, moment by moment (as are we all) and I view his journey as an inspiration for us to rise above personal limitation and step into shoes of a hero even if we may not fully believe they will fit.

We have all had a day we call, the worst day and perhaps more still to come. We also have a gift for choosing and the power to act as love would. The light that shines in Oskar’s soul is like a star that herald’s new birth.  And just as he is called to follow blind faith in order to let this light guide him, so too are we. This light is unwavering and while at times may seem dim it is a beacon that is always there…waiting for us to notice…to remember.  We are always being called… sometimes we are not listening.  In the call to love, to keep love alive at all costs, and to refuse to let it ever be extinguished no matter what the circumstances …well that is life’s odyssey.  The Oskar’s of the world are our muse.

Nothing is going to stop me, not even myself.  I yearn to take these words to heart this season and be guided by something bigger than personal struggle. My prayer is to lead with my heart and live by the words of my favorite Christmas carol, ‘let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.’

If you want to be moved and stirred to gratitude, opened to the power of love and possibility, read the book…download the movie.

Santa’s orders.

Branded by faith,

Authentically Yours,




1 comment:

  1. How beautiful Marty. I know about "worst days" for sure and yes, I have had very heavy boots too. It's people like you that help us open with love so we can let our light keep on shining no matter what. Thanks for everything you are to me. xo