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Sean Penn in "Mystic River"
 
A Terrible Power


They say that everyone has his fifteen minutes of fame.. Most of us have more than that.. We have the day of our birth, our wedding day, celebrations of significant achievements in work, our retirement, and eventually....the day when a circle of loved ones gathers as six strong friends carry our body to its rest..

I believe the same thing could be said about a certain kind of "power".. A TERRIBLE Power.. Not just political influence, finances, authority, or physical prowess.. The Power of which I speak is the IMPACT that comes with being the bearer of really "bad" news.........the kind of news that can change a life forever........the kind of news that will take a reasonable, well-adjusted individual and send him (or her) straight to Hell..

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I was inspired to examine this issue more closely when I stumbled upon a scene from the movie "Mystic River," the scene where Sean Penn's character discovers that his teenage daughter has been brutally murdered (see above picture)...

When I saw the scene....it immediately took me back to times in my own life when I was personally required to wield this Terrible Power.....times when *I* became a bearer of bad tidings...


Being in touch with these personal moments again, I felt compelled to salute all those who regularly carry the burden of walking up to a stranger, a peaceful person--and delivering information that will turn that person's world upside down...
 

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Another clip here is from "Saving Private Ryan.." a story that also features the horrible responsibility of bringing bad, bad tidings to peaceful families in a time of war.. This one hits soooo close to home for all of us now, doesn't it?

Included in the video is a particularly poignant scene where a mother is looking out her window, washing breakfast dishes at her Mid-Western farm... On her door are four stars, indicating four sons who proudly serve their country as the U.S. fights tyranny in Europe... Suddenly, in the distance, she spots a vehicle coming up her long, winding drive.. She can't quite make it out until it pulls directly in front of her house.. As she opens the front door, two army officers and an army chaplain step out of a government vehicle.. Immediately......the horrible realization comes over her.........a realization which causes her to abruptly sit down the porch as these men approach... Three of her sons have been killed, and the fourth one is missing in action..
 

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Later in the movie, an Army Captain (Tom Hanks) must wield the "Power," as he informs the fourth son that his brothers have been killed.. All of them.. And my heart wrenched a bit as my mind raced back to the day when I had to inform my young wife that her mother had died... And, even worse, the day I had to tell my own father that, chances were, he wasn't going to recover from the cancer that had taken over his body..

This moment..........this misson, if you will.......It's really like the Sword of Shiva, I think.. Shiva, in His Destructor Aspect.. If you look at the Mystic River clip... you can see anguish in the policeman's eyes (Kevin Bacon)....as he silently affirms to a nearly-insane father that yes, his beautiful princess is gone..

I cannot describe this Power, nor would I want to if I could.. I can only make reference to it, with tremendous awe and respect, as we take time this weekend to remember those who have gone on before us..

The last Video is from one of my favorite mini-series, "The Thorn Birds"--- about a family in New Zealand who is attended, through their generations, by a beloved Priest named "Father Ralph..." The story features a love affair between this priest and the young daughter in the family, Meggie Cleary..........who grows up loving him and losing him, over and over, because of his devotion to God.. At one point, they do come together in a secret tryst, which results in the conception of a son..

Since Father Ralph is still stuck on the horns of his "dilemma".........(his love for Meggie vs. his vows as a priest)....she keeps the baby, and doesn't tell him that it's his.. She lets Father Ralph believe the baby was fathered by her ex-husband, whom she left just before running off to be with her "true" love.. What she got of Father Ralph she had to steal.. But that part was the best... That part was a boy named Dane..

Over the years, Father Ralph becomes very impressed by and attached to the boy, often remarking that he could not care for him more if he was his very own son! Eventually, Dane chooses to become a priest too.......(another great loss for Meggie!).........and Father Ralph helps him to work towards taking his vows.. Everyone grieves a bit, yet they celebrate too, because Dane is the most holy and devoted man they have ever met.. .

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But there is more.. Following his ordination, Dane celebrates his priesthood by going to Greece with his sister, where he is abruptly and tragically drowned.,. As word comes back to Meggie, she vents her wrath against God and Father Ralph by wielding her own version of this "Terrible Power.." She tells Ralph who Dane really is, then watches the old man collapse in anguish before her.. In the scene shown here, Father Ralph is near death, himself, sitting and praying in a garden.. In his guilt and sadness, he gives her one last "sermon" in which he tells the WHOLE TRUTH about his lust and ambition.. And in the telling of this lesson, he seems to find redemption..

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This is an odd topic, I know.. But it IS Memorial Day! I hope you enjoy the scenes.. And I especially hope for strength and grace to pour abundantly into your life should you ever, ever have to play this role of Shiva for someone...wielding A Terrible Power that is quite beyond description..
 

"Saving Private Ryan"




 

"Mystic River"


 


"The Thorn Birds"
 

 

 


Blessings, from Daniel Jacob.
 

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