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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: Those “You’re on Your Own” moments
By Melanie Kerr


I am the person in the cinema that you wish you were not sitting next to.

I don’t crunch popcorn really loud or rustle packets of sweets in the quiet moments. I am not the person that has to go to the toilet just when things are getting interesting, and blocks your view as I step on your toes to get to the aisle. I don’t forget to switch off my mobile phone and don’t “Shh” the young people whispering on the back row.

I just join in! I forget that I am not at home and I participate in everything that is happening. My husband discovered this early on in our courtship. Loud sobs came from the seat next to him as Cyrano to Bergerac died at the end of the film.

I have cheered on as William Wallace gave his stirring speech at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. I have booed Captain Hook as he has waved his sword threateningly at Peter Pan. I have shouted “OH NO!” when Harrison Ford, the fugitive, took a dive into the tumbling waters of a dam. During “Watership Down” when Hazel dies at the end…well, I am sure that you get the message.

Perhaps the most difficult films for me to watch are the ones that have been adapted from books. As an avid reader with an active imagination, some films just don’t do justice to the book. The casting director has got it entirely wrong with the heroine not having enough feistiness, or the hero having the wrong shade of hair. These things matter to me.

In the case of “The Lord of the Rings” – the first film of the trilogy, they got it wrong big time. The scene I find fault with takes place beside a river. Frodo has been stabbed with a poisoned dagger by the evil wraiths. He is becoming like the wraith, in danger of crossing over into their world. What should happen next is that he is placed on a horse and rides for the river. If he crosses over, he is safe. He is being severely tempted to give in to the wraiths, but finds the courage to keep going. The film, however, is quite different. He is on the back of the horse, while some slim and pretty fairy princess is taking control. She makes the decision for him and rescues him.

It seems to me that the whole point of the scene was to demonstrate the strength of Frodo and set him up as the one with enough determination to carry the ring to Mount Doom. He has faced a strong trial and come through it – on his own.

There are some things that we just have to do on our own. I am reminded of another river, another individual and another trial. In the story of Jacob, on his journey back home to Canaan, he sends his family on ahead, across a river. He stays behind, alone. Suddenly someone jumps out of the bushes and wrestles with him. The man turns out not to be a robber intent on taking whatever he can get, but God in human form. It is a curious story to be sure and I have always understood it as God fighting to “give” Jacob a blessing. Jacob was self sufficient and scheming. He saw what he wanted and plotted and planned to get it – without allowing God to give him it.

It is a frightening thing sometimes to face God alone. We prefer to be surrounded by other people, on a Sunday morning, where we can hide.

Alone with God, there is nothing to hide behind. God gets us in an arm lock, knocks a spiritual thigh out of joint, we cling on to him and God gets his way with us. He wrestles to give us blessings and we, broken and helpless, no longer have the strength or the confidence in ourselves, to plan our own way ahead.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Rhonda Clark09/08/06
I love your opening line. It pulls you in. The flow was nice also.
Beth Muehlhausen09/08/06
Interesting conclusions from a movie-watcher! My family is into inserting movie quotes in everyday conversation but I never remember them...unless they're from "You've Got Mail."

Anyway, personally I'd like more development on Jacob's experience - I think you could expand your commentary on this point and come up with a powerful devotional!