John Wick & Lessons On Redemption
I'm going to say something bold and controversial, so get ready...
Keanu Reeves' John Wick films just might be the very best action movie franchise of all time. There, I said it. Let the debate begin.
Anyway... Here's my actual point, which I should get to before I start going all fanboy, and nerdy over this.
There's this moment in the first John Wick movie where the villain of the film, a Russian mobster named Viggo Tarasov, tells John Wick that he can't escape the darkness brought on by the sins he's committed.
"This life follows you... it clings to you... infecting everyone that comes close to you."
In a movie filled with memorable quotes, that one is the one that resonated with me the most. It seemed to me to be a critical moment in the film, where John Wick hears the very words that he's been internalizing for years.
And then he has to make a decision---let the darkness envelop him, or use what he's learned from the darkness to move toward redemption, and (dare I say it?) resurrection.
Every single one of us has experienced our own kind of darkness. Sometimes we create it ourselves. We make mistakes, we fail, we fall short of being the people we long to be.
And sometimes the darkness descends on us because of others--leaving us feeling broken, angry, bitter, and afraid.
Perhaps you're suffering in the midst of your own season of darkness right now. If you are, please know that I get it. I understand what it's like. But here's where I share the good news about it with you.
You don't have to fear it. You aren't defined by it. You won't be overcome by it. But you might need to let yourself experience it, just as you should let yourself experience the joy, hope, and fullness of the light.
You might need to ask yourself what it's trying to teach you.
Fr. Richard Rohr recently wrote:
We do not need to be afraid of the depths and breadths of our own lives, of what this world offers us or asks of us. We are given permission to become intimate with our own experiences, learn from them, and allow ourselves to descend to the depths of things, even our mistakes before we try too quickly to transcend it all in the name of some idealized purity or superiority.
The thing about trying to simply escape our negative experiences is that they will follow us if we don't learn from them---if we don't ask of them what they have to teach us.
If we run from the lessons, if we avoid diving deeper into "the depths" of the darkness, we eventually will discover that over time we don't even trust the light any longer.
You should also know that your experiences aren't some kind of test that God is administering or a training exercise, for that matter. I believe that God doesn't work that way. God doesn't cause all things, but God is present in all things--even our darkness.
What are you learning about God in the midst of the challenges you are facing? Where do you see God present? Do you need to sit for a while where you are until you see? Until you learn?
It's not an easy thing, but you have all the grace you need to do it---grace that flows unabated and never-ending from a God who loves you beyond all love and wants you to live a full, and abundant life.
May it be so for you today and every day. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.