THE WAY/This is the WAY…

“We are ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy. Counselors will be on hand at the church tomorrow,” the church wrote. “If you’re a Christian, you can pray for those who lost their loved ones and for the church family.”

~from the First Baptist Church of New Braunfuls Texas regarding an accident where several of their members were killed

Saying he did not want the film to appeal to only one demographic, Emilio Estevez called the film “pro-people, pro-life, not anti-anything”

Emilio Estevez, Director of THE WAY

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A few days ago, I started to write something about one of my very favorite movies. THE WAY stars Martin Sheen and is written and directed by his son Emilio Estevez.

“Beautifully and elegantly shot, The Way is a straightforward and moving tale of the bond between father and son, a reconciliation between the generations. In this case, it doesn’t occur on the mortal plane – the bereaved father, closed off emotionally, experiences a gentle conversion to his late son’s free-spirited approach to life”

I wanted to write about THE WAY because there’s something about it–  hard for me to put into words but watching it, always makes life make sense and brings everything together for me even in these very dark times. I feel happy, hopeful, inspired. I have probably watched it at least 15 times and I’ll watch it again and again.

THE WAY is spiritual but not religious though El Camino de Santiago/The Way of St. James Basílica_de_Santiago_02originally began as a Catholic pilgrimage during the 9th century. The story goes beyond separation and the characters are real, people you would love to know. There is no pretense, no phoniness, no sex or violence, martin sheenand no Hollywood influence in spite of Martin Sheen playing the lead role.

So I was going to write a story about it but I didn’t quite know what I wanted to say and then yesterday, not far from where I used to live in Texas, there was an accident, a church bus was hit head on by a pickup and 13 people were killed. I saw the video of the destroyed bus, the bodies on the ground and the hearses, fire trucks and ambulances and I immediately thought of Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her research on near death experience. Elisabeth had collected the stories from many who had had a near death experience and some told her that they were aware of people who prayed for them as they passed by the scene of the accident. I’ve always remembered that when I pass the scene of an accident or a dead animal on the side of the road.

Just the day before, a friend of a friend had been killed in a head-on collision and so all of this was on my mind: Are they at peace, do they feel our thoughts, our sorrow?

And then I happened to read this statement from The First Baptist Church of New Braunfuls: “We are ministering to family members to help them deal with this tragedy. Counselors will be on hand at the church tomorrow,” the church wrote. “If you’re a Christian, you can pray for those who lost their loved ones and for the church family.”

If you’re a Christian you can pray for them??? otherwise not???? How arrogant and worse. What about the rest of us who aren’t Christian? What if you’re Native American, Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist. Does whoever wrote this statement actually believe that non Christians don’t pray..or that their prayers don’t count?

And then I thought about THE WAY and why I feel so hopeful watching it. Because there is no separation, no righteousness, no pretense, no attempt to convert. The-Way-MovieThe characters are not even on a religious pilgrimage: a Canadian woman is trying to quit smoking, a Dutch man is trying to lose weight, an Irish man has writers block and Tom Avery, Martin Sheen’s character describes himself as a lapsed Catholic.

And yet on their journey, these 4 people who initially don’t even like each other, come together almost as one, with an appreciation for each other and an understanding about life..and death, that can only be experienced, not taught.

‘The whole journey is about showing our brokenness,’ he says. ‘It’s about opening up and being human. And that’s what spirituality really is. It’s humanity.’

~Martin Sheen speaking about THE WAY

Separation is everywhere and it will eventually poison everything and everyone.  Many years ago when I lived in Houston, Texas, I went to an Episcopal church there. It was an upscale church and I went as many did, for social reasons. I went until one day I got a call from someone on a church committee raising money to… in a sense make this particular church better than the other Episcopal churches in Houston. I can’t remember exactly what that person said but it was about competition, money, being better than. I left the Church and organized religion then and never went back.

At about this same time, I used to go to AA Meetings. My beloved counselor, John Bradshaw wanted me to go and I did for a while but I could not relate. The AA members referred to the people who did not belong as ‘civilians’..the message: we in AA are superior. One day a homeless man came in from off the street. He had brought a six pack of beer with him and he sat down hoping [it seemed to me] to just be part of something. But no one ever looked at him or spoke to him. They had forgotten where they had come from. They had become superior and the homeless man…..homeless_man_on_street left more alone than he had come.

[When I next saw John Bradshaw, I told him that ‘the only time I had a desire to drink’ was after an AA meeting. ‘Then don’t go.” he said . “It’s not right for you.”]

So what’s the point. The point is Separation..Separation caused by religions, countries, borders. Being better than, being superior to, our religion is the only one, our country is the best [“We’re making America great!] The comment from the church “If you’re a Christian, you can pray for those who lost their loved ones and for the church family.” went out on the national news….separation…we’re different….your not a Christian…you don’t belong.

Put this way in the teachings of the Anishnabe People of Canada:

“To understand the spirit of humility is to understand that no one is above another human being. No one is greater than another human being in this life; no one is lesser than another human being.

To be humble is to see us equally in the eyes of the Great Spirit through the unconditional love of the Great Spirit. His love is expressed to all of us in the same way that the sun will shine on us. The sun does not choose to shine on any one person alone or any one race of people, it shines on all.”

~Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene

*Please visit our online store, LA CASA DE ROSAS which doesn’t exactly have anything to do with THE WAY but then again, maybe it does