Continuing my discussion of spiritual lessons I’ve learned from the cinema, I want to share my experience with Darren Aronofsky’s beautiful and profound film. I love the performances, the seamless integration of the three storylines, the music, and the beautiful images. The film more effectively represents romantic love from a man’s perspective than any other film I’ve seen. And it seeks to reconcile seemingly conflicting, but equally important elements of life: male and female, life and death, future and past, reason and faith, the sciences and the arts. Though, I think the most important lesson that it is helping me learn is how suffering may be used as a source of spiritual growth.
The film’s main character Tom struggles to find the Tree of Life to save his dying wife Izzy. Beyond the Old Testament reference, the film is a pretty amazing allegory of man’s mortal experience. Tom struggles, and only when he accepts his struggles does he find transcendence. Izzy teaches him that suffering and death are, potentially, a means of the creation of new life.
This lesson is an important one for me because, despite having been taught that righteous living is accompanied by happiness, I try to do good and still encounter enormous trials. And I think this lesson is important for all disciples of Christ who work hard and pray for blessings but still must learn to endure to the end. I am learning, like Tom, that although we may not experience relief from our sufferings, as we endure our trials with patience, humility and hope, we are developing Christ-like attributes. And that is a blessing in itself.