Why is it that I start to blubber during certain kinds of movie scenes? In the movie Crash is a moment that gets to me each and every time. I’ve seen it five, six times, and every time I sit there with my eyes full of tears. Why is that? Why don’t I get used to it and why does it even get worse each time?
Arthur Japin has given me a hint. He starts to cry every time he reads the picture book The Giving Tree out loud. This is, he writes, ‘because in between the sentences you can catch a glimpse of the reason for our existence’.
That is a beautiful turn of phrase. I start to cry at a movie scene or a poetic line because I feel: yes, that’s how it is. That’s life. So horrific and so beautiful at the same time.
In the old Celtic spiritual world such a moment was called a ‘thin place’. Some locations and some moments are very special, they say, because in those cases heaven is unusually close by. A Celtic expression says that heaven and earth are only three feet apart, but sometimes it chafes and you can feel that there is something spiritual going on. Maybe it was a concert that sounded ‘heavenly’, or a meal that tasted ‘divine’. Philosophers may call it a spiritual experience. On twitter it is called #godmoment.
Everyone is familiar with those spiritual moments and everyone can no doubt pinpoint one moment that felt most exceptional. The thinnest of all places, so to speak. It really doesn’t matter in that case if you’re a religious person or not. I have noticed that every person can recall something that made them realize: yes, this is what it is essentially all about. For me this is Jesus. It happens to me fairly often that I read or hear a story about him and that I think to myself: yes, this is it.
Other people will have this heavenly experience in a different way, but for myself, I experience this most with the stories of Jesus. A friend of mine tells me that no one was as much God as Jesus. I like that. A movie director may describe it as the most passionate combination of emotional scenes put together. It is in essence the same thing.
One story that never fails to move me, for example, is the one where Jesus is crucified and then forgives his tormentors. I was bullied when I was young and I get nasty things hurled at me on the internet. This hurts. But when I hear such a story, I come to realize that I can be bigger than that pain. It gives me a kind of vision. The realization that there is another way. This is what it is ultimately about. Here you can ‘catch a glimpse of the reason for our existence’.
I feel the same thing at the end of one of the many Jesus-movies. Jesus returns to earth in jeans and a flannel shirt. Dozens of children run toward him, children of all colours, disabled ones, healthy ones, all of them, and he hugs them.
And I blubber.
Call me sentimental, but these kinds of things give me direction and hope. I know a little bit about what is ultimately important in life and it is apparently possible that heaven reaches earth. Often I can’t see this heaven. Things can be such a terrible mess here. If I then consider the fact that a person like Jesus existed, who, even under the most horrendous torture remained merciful and loving, then I feel that things will work out okay and that brings relieve.