Have you ever read the book: “The Shack” by William Young? The book, printed in 2007 got quite a wide reading at the time. Recently it has been made into a movie, showing at the theater near you! The book and movie is an allegorical story of one man’s journey toward healing and wholeness. “The Shack” is sure to stir up some controversy with its unique portrayal of the Trinity, but this should not overshadow the basic message, which is good. I saw the movie last week. The cinematography is good. The movie does take quite a bit of poetic license apart from the book; the book is always better. The movie is a bit melodramatic and the voices and dialog at times can be a bit too soft (for us who are hard of hearing) yet overall I thought it was good.
“The Shack” is a story of a man named, Mack, who had a rough childhood, who eventually marries, and who is in the midst of raising a beautiful family. He loves his wife and children dearly but then a terrible tragedy occurs as his youngest daughter is abducted and murdered by a stranger in an abandoned shack/cabin not far from the place where they were camping at the time. Grieving and angry with God and himself, Mack distances himself from everyone, even those he loves. All this changes when he receives an anonymous letter in his mail box inviting him to “Come see me at the shack, signed ’Papa.’” “Papa” is a name his daughter used often to address God. In anguish and with no other choice Mack decides to revisit that worn out building where all his nightmares occurred. To his surprise, here he encounters the Trinity in a very unusual way. God/ Papa is quoted saying he invited Mack because “It’s here that you got stuck!” Through these three persons Mack is forced to deal with his personal issues and confront the difficult questions of good and evil as well as his own anger and resentment, guilt and pain over his daughter’s death.
The film contains some nice dialog between Mack and each person of the Trinity including words like “Sin is its own punishment.” Mack reaches a turning point when Jesus points him to a cave that he must enter in order to face his personal demons. “I cannot go in there, but I will be with you,” Jesus says as Mack enters a dark cave of his own making. In this cave Mack comes to understand God’s universal love for him, his daughter, his earthly father, and even the man who caused his daughter’s death. It’s a real demonstration of the power of faith, forgiveness and reconciliation. As Mack comes out of the cave, he passes through a waterfall, which is very telling of the Sacrament of Baptism as he is cleansed of all guilt and anger and shame. Through a series events, Mack, eventually goes home, but with a whole new vision and understanding of God’s love. This love transforms his life and whole family!
Like the “Shack” in Lent we are called to face our personal demons and to enter into our own cave in order to confront the difficult questions inside us. As Jesus said in the movie, “I cannot go in there, but I will be with you.” The hope is that we all eventually come out the other side refreshed, renewed in spirit, and with a whole new vision of our faith and life in Jesus Christ. On Easter Sunday then, we renew our baptismal promises and find new life in Christ and the Trinity who has saved us, much like Mack, our main character who passed through the waterfall as well. I would advise you to consider reading the book or seeing the movie….as part of your Lent journey.
On a final note: Consider attending our Lenten children’s and adult program, “The Seed, The Soil and The Sower” to be held on Wednesday, March 29th at St. Paul Church at 6:30 pm this week. We will have a community meal at 5:00 pm followed by the program. It promises to be a great Lenten program filled with prayer, music and animation. If you intend to be part of the meal please call: 251-4831 ext. 212 so we know the number attending.
Words to Live by: “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk.” Lenten Peace!