Caution: Spoiler Alert
Today I saw Life of Pi (the movie based on Yann Martel’s best-seller) as an Sunday treat to myself. I will try not to give away too much of the movie but I felt led to reflect on the overall message. The main character named Pi (as someone with a weird name I was already on his side, LOL!), is a spiritually curious Indian boy who decides to follow Hinduism, Christianity and Islam in a search for God’s truth.As a child I also looked into many religions of my own accord and through a mandatory extra period of World Religions class required by the “gifted” program I was placed in during Junior High School. I ordered a Book of Mormon but before it could arrive at my house I discovered what Mormons thought of Black people prior to the 1970’s and ended up throwing it away and writing a Black Power note on the reply card and promptly sending it back to the Mormons (my first Act of Black Liberation Theology). I read some of Siddhartha and found Buddhism attractive not as a religion but as a call to find my own spiritual path.
At 10 years old I was led to pray and read the psalms in my grandmother’s Bible and this culminated in my aunt exclaiming “someone should take this girl to church”and so being fiercely independent I took myself. I can relate to Pi because as a young person he took his spiritual journey into his own hands to the bewilderment of his family. For the majority of the movie Pi is shipwrecked, without his family and ends up with only a Bengal tiger for company. I won’t give away too much of the film but Pi verbally surrenders to God at one of his lowest points and this surrender plays a great role in his survival. Pi ultimately has to learn to live in harmony with the tiger and release the guilt he has about his family’s death. He ends up seeing God’s hand in the shipwreck. The movie resonated with me because I know I need to surrender the pain in my life to God and release the survivor’s guilt I have over escaping poverty. I also know that the most painful experiences in my life have been my greatest teachers; experiences such as foster care, homelessness, rejection, losing my twin brother, colorism, lack of parental support, racism and poverty have all given me empathy and the ability to relate to the majority of the world. Many talk about the 99% but until your dignity is stripped away no protest can teach you what it is like to be dehumanized by society. A broken heart is a cracked vessel through which ray’s of God’s light can shine.If we replace pain with forgiveness our brokenness can be transformed into a balm of healing love for others. I am at the point now where I can look back over my life and see that it is time to reconcile with my pain and move forward in forgiveness and unity with the universe. Life of Pi gives a visual depiction of the spiritual journey that we all have to go on if we want to commune with God. I wish I could say spiritual growth happens in nice circumstances but unfortunately this is not the case. I wish I could say that parents and loved ones will be there during the dark night of our souls but a time will come when you will have to face God alone. Most of us will never experience an actual shipwreck but in order to spiritually evolve to the point of surrender we will have to come face to face with situations of survival, fear, loneliness and uncertainty in order to throw our heads back and cry out “God I surrender, I am your vessel use me” as Pi did in his greatest moment of desperation. So while reflecting on this inspirational movie I am left with these questions:
What if we surrendered to the journey God has placed us on?
What if we courageously searched for God even if we had to search alone?
What if we saw our greatest moments of pain as God’s greatest lessons for us?
What if we replaced fear of the other with communion?
From another shipwrecked man of great faith: “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.”-2 Corinthians 11:25-31