A “Retired” Pastor’s Musings Part 1

It sounded intriguing but we hadn’t heard about it. Were we living a sheltered life upon our retiring from full-time pastoral ministry? Who’d ever heard about a movie with a name like “ROOM?” One reviewer promised it would “…take your breath away.” Others gushed, “Life-affirming and awe-inspiring,“ adding, “…uplifts the soul.” Convinced, we checked it out at our library that has movies and headed home with great expectations of our movie-night’s being a time of breath-taking inspiration, uplifting of our souls as well as life-affirming.

Lights dimmed, coffee and cookies in place, I pushed “play” with great expectations. We’d seen a few duds previously, some of whom we’d ejected from the DVD player with either disgust or disappointment. After a few minutes, our interest, not quite fascination, came in the form of, “I think she called the child Jack but it looks like a girl, don’t you agree?” We were hooked. No ejecting. We were in for an intense time.

The movie is an engaging adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s book, Room, and succeeds in challenging one’s mind and memory. We asked ourselves, “Had we read about something like this happening? Could something like this really happen? Do people do things like this to each other? Does a child ever recover fully? Does the mother? Can we even imagine the feelings?”

Both the movie and book are the story of a young girl kidnapped by “Mr Nick” who for seven years had locked her in an “11x11ft” shed equipped with bare basic necessities. Our story picks it up when Jack turns 5 and the birthday cake doesn’t have candles. Mr. Nick visits for personal pleasures, clearly without any love and compassion for mother or child. Jack learned about the world via television and his mother’s sharing remembrances. But, now it became time to find a way to escape this surreal world.

Risking both his life and hers, Ma succeeds, but what follows? Having been enclosed as he was, literally and figuratively, 5yr-old Jack faces a world that’s not his imagination but real. He’s forced to deal with adults who care, not just Ma and the Mr. Nick who never talked to him. Though delighted to have his daughter back, Jack’s grandpa can’t look at his grandson. Return to the real world is rough!

Captivated for its 118 minutes, Shirley and I reflected. Jack’s world had had-to-be one of imagination. The 11x11ft living quarters for both mother and son required incredible accommodating. No windows, only a skylight and old TV gave any indication of another world. Our spacious environment and its stimuli, our friendships and family, our pets and toys, our—the world we take for granted, how would we function without them? What would we become if our world were restricted to a young kidnapped mother and a TV in an 11x11ft room?

Our movie night became a sacrament of gratitude for what we’ve had and have, while marveling at the love of a mother determined to save her child. We rejoiced, realizing life is such a gracious gift from God.

Jesus promised its abundance and living it “to the full.” (John 10:10) Do we? Free to do so, have we even begun to imagine and live its possibilities?

Written by George Vink

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