UNREASONABLE – TO NOT WANT REVENGE
If I go back to bed I’m going to know how much I hurt all over… it’s not just “laryngitis” — it’s whatever comes with a 101 temperature – and it’s not coming down yet, and so I just want to go away from my bed where I feel so terrible.
Might do a little feverish rambling tonight. But this posting has been waiting, and I’m going to mean what I say.
Have you seen the movie yet? The“Revenant”? I highly, personally recommend it. (As long as you have a strong stomach —except, you’d better, because the themes in this movie are as real as real life and we all must deal with them, eventually.)
You know the movie has a grizzly bear in it:
I saved this picture because it’s a drawing, and I want to draw. Draw a bear.
But those of you who know me, know my history with bear attacks, and you know why I consider bears to be a metaphor for those things which stalk us, and then all of a sudden rush out and attack. (Like a few million viruses in me right now. Trillion?)
You can’t always see the bear, but by the time you do, they’ve decided that you’re prey. You’re the victim.
No way to fight:
Just endure, for the duration. Whatever the “bear” are in your life.
Now, you know the story behind the Revenant movie is a true story. There really was a Hugh Glass, he really was a trapper; he really did get attacked by a grizzly, and two of his friends were really ordered to stay behind with him until he died (real soon), in order to give him a burial.
Glass was featured in a recent issue of my Cowboy magazine:
Since the two companions were hungry and cold and being pursued by a small group of Indians who were intent upon revenge, they really did leave Hugh Glass out there in the wilderness, more than half dead. And they buried him, slightly, and moved on.
A lot of the movie is spent on Mr. Glass kind of getting himself out of his grave, and then with determination and grit, motivated by revenge and hatred for the men who left him behind, he crawled and then limped his way to Fort Kiowa, where he’d find out where those men are – and go after them.
If that’s all you see in the movie, then it’s a pretty good, sort of an okay adventure movie with beautiful scenes of the wintry rugged West. (Mostly Montana and South Dakota.) I’ve driven through there. It’s all true. The scenery is beyond description.
(Not South Dakota, but the scale is right.) —
But along the way there are some pretty powerful Christian themes.
For those of you who know the Bible, doesn’t St. Paul say that this life is a very hard journey, and you have to undergo many hardships and much pain and loneliness, and you’ll have many enemies in this world, who’ll wish to do you harm. We suffer in our Christian life as Christ Himself suffered, humiliated, abandoned, and bruised. (Is the servant better than the Master?) If we don’t have it so bad, we just shake our heads at how really tough and desperate some people do have it.
Hugh Glass just keeps living. He just keeps going. A lesser man would have laid aside his goal . . . .
But beyond that just general and vague sort of metaphor, there is the accompanying theme in this movie of revenge – and the choice between revenge and forgiveness. That conflict actually drives the images and the action in the movie.
Hugh Glass was married to an Indian woman. One of the more peaceful tribes.
Their enemies were the French trappers and soldiers, the English (Americans), and most of all, the other Indian tribes who bore down on them in frequent massacres. The more violent tribes were in the process of driving out the gentler tribes during this time.
And so his wife was killed. But she didn’t “leave” him. She was a gentle soul, loving and protective of him, and– she was taught by the Catholic missionaries. She often “hovered” over him during his trek back to Fort Kiowa, whispering to him both encouragements and restraints on the hatred in his heart.
Unreasonable! Unreasonable to not want revenge! After all, that was the only thing that kept him alive.
And then she came to him once in a vision; and this time she brought the unconditional love of God, the deep love upon which their (sacramental Catholic) marriage was based. His vision took place in the ruins of a Catholic chapel – right out there in the midst of the wilderness.
When his wife led him further into the ruins, (they looked worse than this in the movie), he had eyes only for her, but behind him you could see the ruins of beautiful and instructive paintings at the front of the church –
You could see the crucifix, in dark, faded paints, Jesus, angels, Mary nearby, and many other images that help us remember and meditate on our teachings. I knew instantly that this was a ruined mission chapel left behind by Father DeSmet.
(It’s worth taking the time to learn about this episode in American history: Some of the Plains Indians had received powerful visions from the Great Father Above. He told them that He would send men who came from far away to teach them the “whole truth” about Him. The “rest of the story,” as we say. The Great Father Above showed them what the men would look like: they would be dressed in black, black robes, and they would wear crucifixes on their chests. The Plains Indians kept this in their memories and in their drawings. Many generations later, some English (American) missionaries came to them, ready to teach them, but the Plains Indians rejected them. They had a “book” but they didn’t have a crucifix. A little later, Father DeSmet and his companions, from Belgium, came to the Plains Indians. Father DeSmet was instantly recognized and received, and many Plains Indians became Catholic. — And this was before the routine slaughter of the Indians by the . . . Americans. They took out many Catholic missionaries too. )
So there, in the movie, was the evidence of Father DeSmets’ visit and of the beautiful wilderness chapels that were built, and evidence of the gentle, Catholic teaching of forgiveness, coming through the vision of his wife’s “visit.”
While I watched the movie I saw this loving, too-gentle teaching of his wife who was accompanying him on his terrible journey, and I also saw the determination for all-too-human revenge inside of Hugh Glass.
As the movie ended, he had his opportunity, and no one would have faulted him for what he was about to do.
A parallel story of revenge among the savages was playing out too, at the same time. The movie brilliantly brought together these two parallel stories.
“Do not take revenge. Put it in the hands of God. Justice belongs to Him, not to mankind.”
Father DeSmet brought Catholic teaching to the Plains Indians. Glass’s wife lived out those Catholic teachings for her husband. And the savages were the Hand of God.
The word “revenant’ refers to someone who has returned from death, or just as good as death. He has revived. Been resurrected. But see: what did he “revive” from? The physical death he should have experienced, but for his hate-filled determination?
Or did he revive from the spiritual death that had made him hate-filled and full of vengeance in the first place.
Sure would love to “teach” more about this movie — but I think you can do your own thinking.
I’m all in . . . .
Bed is looking a little better . . . .
This entry was posted on February 17, 2016 at 3:37 am and is filed under Bears as Metaphor, Books and Movies, Christian Analysis, Christian Love, Uncategorized. You can subscribe via RSS 2.0 feed to this post's comments.comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.