His son, Daniel, is dead.
And all at once, a life that seemed to have every duck carefully placed in a row was upside down.
And thus begins a father’s journey in the movie The Way with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. It is a poignant look at a man who has been caught up in the world’s version of success and has, ironically, become somewhat cynical and bitter. And when the unthinkable happens we see the ensuing inner struggles of a man who suddenly realizes he doesn’t have things figured out quite the way he thought.
FYI - If you haven’t seen the movie yet, this will contain some slight spoilers.
The last time the two men spoke they were engaged in an awkward conversation as Tommy drove his son, Daniel, to the airport. Daniel tells his dad about the journey he’s going to make and, in an effort to try connecting with his dad, asks him to come along. Tommy cynically laughs it off, saying that not everyone has the luxury of taking time off from work to do such a thing.And now the time was gone.
Tommy makes the pain-staking trip to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to retrieve his son’s body and his belongings. Daniel had just begun his journey on the road of El camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James, a pilgrimage that millions have traveled over the last thousand years. The journey can begin on any of a number of paths, but the destination is always Galicia, Spain, where some believe the remains of the apostle James are buried. Depending on the origin of one’s journey, the pilgrimage can take weeks to months.Tommy arrives in France and decides to have his son’s body cremated for the return trip. He begins looking through his son’s backpack at the things he’d chosen to take with him on his journey of discovery. It’s perhaps the first time in a long time that Tommy had taken a few moments to really study his son.
And we can’t help but think about how we’re spending the days of our own short lives.Tommy decides to honor his son by taking him on the journey anyway. He throws the backpack over his shoulders, the box of ashes tucked safely inside, and he sets out to make the 500-mile trek in his son’s stead.
Tommy reluctantly picks up a few friends along the way, each of whom has their own reasons for traveling The Way. But their reasons seem rather selfish and superficial compared to the heavy burden that Tommy carries.The others approach their goals half-heartedly, but Tommy remains steadfast in his mission to do this last loving act for his son.
As they all reached their destination together, it occurred to me that the only one who successfully accomplished what he set out to do was the one who, in love, set out to do something for someone else.It was too late to reconcile with his son, but through choosing this unselfish and loving act he gains much more—a heart of forgiveness, humility, love, and peace.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." John 13:34
Jesus made this statement to the apostles the evening He had washed their feet. He didn’t just say He loved them, He became their servant. That is what God says love really is and this is the way we’re to live our lives.
It’s love that gives us the strength to do the hard thing--the ability to lay aside our pride and our own lives in order to finish what God’s called us to do.
We are all on a journey called life, and loving others is what makes life worth living. The specific ways we’re called to sacrifice throughout our lives may sometimes go against all common sense. Sometimes we may just not feel like it, just like Tommy didn’t feel like going on the trip with his son. But God says that by choosing to live a life of sacrifice we’ll gain a lot more that we ever gave up.
As I watched the movie I couldn’t help but also make comparison to Christ and the road He walked in our steads, too. Like the story, while we were dead in our sins, Christ embarked on a journey for us, a journey we couldn’t take ourselves. He journeyed to the cross and laid down His life for us to purchase our souls from hell.
It was His love for His Father and for us that kept Him steadfast on the road to an agonizing death. But to Him, the reward of giving us eternal life made the journey worth it.
Question4U: What is one thing you can do to live your life more unselfishly?
Blessings and Love,