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Archive for the ‘Hook’ Category

I am alone.      

I walk along a shadowed path, a dark Lenten journey into self consideration.

Night has fallen early; I can barely see the way ahead. I stumble and fall, many times, for I am weak and unsure of my way. Where should I turn?

The black forest closes around me, tall trees of sins surround me: mighty redwoods of past transgressions on the left, massive oaks of inaction on the right.

Suddenly my feet step onto a metal sidewalk that carries me into the darkness. It slowly descends, a one-way escalator, a monstrous, mechanical movement machine, pulling me down into a deep chasm.

Like a giant indoor shopping mall, each level I pass has dozens of window displays. But instead of stores fronts, each display is a large video screen with film adaptations of my life, scenes in which I take no pride.      

I am George McFly in Back to the Future—cowardly, intimidated by aggressive people and insecure about my writing.

I am Peter Banning in Hook—so consumed by my job that I forget who I am and what’s most important in life. So focused on finances, I yell at my children when things are not going right.

Lower and lower I glide to the levels below.

I am Lester Burnham in American Beauty—restless and easily distracted by a lustful imagination. Faced with familiar temptations, I covet an irresponsible future.

I am Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind—prideful and boastful, I care more about what happens to me than others. I walk away instead of dealing with matters most important.

Deeper into the darkness I descend.

I am Peter in The Passion of the Christ—bragging that I will follow Our Lord wherever he goes. However, when faced with trouble and perhaps my own mortality, I deny His existence three times.      

I am Michael Corleone in The Godfather—first an innocent family member, then a good soldier. With moderate success, I am tempted by the power and feel the overwhelming need to control every situation, no matter the cost.

Lower and lower the steps descend to final level. A sign hangs overhead the entrance to Hades: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”   

I am Christy Nielsen in What Dreams May Come. I have died in a car accident, like my children before me. All three deaths were terrible accidents, yet my Annie blames herself for each of them. She takes her own life and ends up in Hell.

Yet Hell is not fire and brimstone. The real Hell is your life gone badly, in its worst possible state. You must spend eternity living that life, without knowing kindness, peace or love.

styx1I must find Annie in this blackest corner of Hell and convince her that she was wrong about her life. I cross a sea of faces—helpless souls crying for help. Thousands of bodies floating in the dark water claw at my boat. 

Upon reaching the shore, I walk past beached ocean liners, the steel ships broken and smoldering, their passengers trapped by flames and unbreakable chains.

Against all odds, I find Annie, my soul mate, and remind her of our love. I convince her that I will remain with her always, no matter the outcome. Her eyes open wide with recognition and her heart fills with gladness. She is lifted up and disappears to our peaceful corner of heaven.   

Yet I remain, for my sins weigh heavily upon my heart.

Softly, clearly, the sweet melody and powerful words of Rory Cooney’s song come to mind: Change our hearts, this time, your Word says it can be. Change our minds, this time, your life could make us free. We are the people your call set apart, Lord this time, change our hearts.

I acknowledge my past sins and open my sorrowful heart to God, begging for his forgiveness.

There in a dark corner, away from everything else, a light softly glows. I look and see it coming from a cave of freshly hewn rock. The stone that once covered the opening has been rolled away.

As I step inside, I see the end of a tree, a giant log rising upward toward the heavens. I step onto the timber and climb, my feet steadied by the nails pounded into the trunk.

The timber rises higher and higher, but it does not fall. It is supported by another timber that crosses underneath and holds it up. The light from above guides me home.

I feel alive again with hope, for all is forgiven. By the strength of this cross I am free.

I rise above the darkness to see the sun rise over the mountain of joy. It illuminates the world and out shines the midnight stars.

I am alone…no more.

CF
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First published in the March 20, 2009 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2009 Christopher Fenoglio.

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The children are home from college this week to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and some needed time off from their studies. Our house, which is spacious while they are away at college, is one again crowded and noisy.

I love it.

Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I enjoy living in an “empty nest” during the school year. Our conversations are longer and better, the remote control is right where I left it, the chocolate milk lasts more than a day, things like that.

But there are times when I wish I could go back in time about fifteen years, just for a weekend. I’d love to hear three grade school students turning laps again through our house with their Barbie cars; or drive to their three basketball games at three different gyms in one day, stopping afterwards for Happy Meals with Beanie Babies; or look into their rooms at 9 p.m. to see them sleeping soundly in their little beds.

This reminds me of the song Trace Adkins sings on country radio called “You’re Gonna Miss This,” written by Ashley Gorley and Lee Miller. In the song, a mother tells an anxious teen the same words a plumber tells a stressed mother of two:

You’re gonna miss this, you’re gonna want this back,
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.
These are the good times, so take a good look around.
You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this.

I studied American history in college, but it didn’t prepare me for the deep sense of history I feel whenever I look at my children’s faces. Blink, she’s eight, sitting on Santa’s knee. Blink, he’s six, playing a keyboard and a recorder at the same time. Blink, he’s five, rolling his eyes like a master comedian.

Those childhood days were very busy and hard, but their memories have turned much sweeter in time. When I stop and think for a moment, the joy of those memories seeps into the present and makes today a little brighter.

This concept, however, is unknown to the main character in Hook, a very special family film we watched often on video tape during those childhood years.

hook_poster_250In Hook, Peter Banning (Robin Williams) is a successful corporate lawyer who focuses entirely on his work. Orchestrating a myriad of details, he instructs his army of office workers to carry out various tasks, even videotaping his son’s ballgame in case he can’t get there in time.

Peter thinks he’s able to do it all – have a successful career, earn the respect of his associates, and provide a good home for his family. Along the way, however, he forgets the one element that’s essential for a happy life: joy.

Peter used to live in joy every day as the legendary Peter Pan, the boy who never wanted to grow up. Together with the Lost Boys and Tinkerbell in Neverland, they swam with the mermaids, danced with the Indians, and fought Captain Hook and the pirates.

The day arrives, however, when Peter makes the decision to grow up and to have a family of his own. Unfortunately, he becomes a lost boy himself—consumed by his work and the next big financial deal.

It’s only through the influence of his wife that they board a plane to England for the dedication of a new wing at the orphanage named after Moira’s grandmother: Wendy Moira Angela Darling.

When Peter’s children mysteriously disappear, Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith) tries to remind Peter of his past. She implores him to go back to Neverland and save his children from Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). He questions her sanity.

But with the help of pixie dust from Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts), Peter goes back to Neverland and tries to make sense of his new surroundings. Confused and ineffective, it’s only after a rebuttal from his son that he finds a new determination to win back his children. He then stumbles upon the secret hiding place where he lived as Peter Pan.

Through his recollections with Tinker Bell, Peter remembers his life as Peter Pan, but also why he wanted to grow up: he wanted to be a father. This memory, this “happy thought,” gives him the power to fly, to organize the Lost Boys and battle Captain Hook and his men.

When Peter returns from Neverland, he’s a changed man, reveling in the past but focused on the present. He lives with the joy of his children in his heart and decides not to take any day for granted. His life will continue to be a great adventure.

In this holiday season, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. But there’s a joy in this world we should embrace and give thanks.

I am so thankful for the warm and generous support I’ve received from the readers of this column and my Christmas book. I pray that God’s love will inspire your hearts to do wonderful things, as He has mine.

CF

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First published in the November 28, 2008 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2008 Christopher Fenoglio.

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