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Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play?

Going off to college for the first time is a very exciting time for students – a new bedroom, a new school, new friends and new freedoms.

For parents, however, it’s a whole different story.

In the midst of shopping to outfit a dorm room, rearranging work schedules around a trip to campus and organizing finances to write tuition checks, many parents will stop and wonder this month: where did all those years go?

I don’t remember growing older, when did they?

It seems like only last year that my oldest son made his first Communion. Then a couple months later he won that trophy at the forensics contest. Two months after that he joined the high school marching band. Just last week he joined the university marching band.

Time is not what it used to be. My four years in college seemed like an eternity.

Thirty years later, four years of high school are just four blinks. Poof, gone. Last year our daughter left for college, this year it’s our oldest son.

It’s sad to see them leave home, away from our protective nest. Are they prepared to be on their own? Did we do everything as parents to help them get ready?

We think so; though we worry it’s not enough. We just want what’s best for our children, like the character Michael Newman (Adam Sandler) in the current film Click.

Motivated to provide a good life for his family, Newman cancels a long-planned camping trip to work on a project for his inconsiderate boss (David Hasselhoff). But when Newman can’t find the TV remote to watch a planning DVD, he drives to the local Bed, Bath & Beyond.

There he talks to Morty (Christopher Walken) who handles products in the “Way Beyond” department. Newman happily leaves the store with a new universal remote with wondrous powers.

In a short time Newman learns that he can fast forward through arguments with his wife, mute the barking dog and pause time to torment the neighborhood brat.

ClickHe also discovers that he can fast forward through his big work project. As he tells his wife, all he wants to do is get through the daily grind to the stage in his life when he can be the boss. Then he can finally spend quality time with his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and their two children.

But life is not a destination, it’s a journey. If you wait until you arrive at a destination to enjoy life, you’ve already missed it.

Newman finds out that there are dire consequences to his fast forwarding. When he is under the influence of the remote, he is on auto pilot, barely speaking to his family, concentrating only on his work.

His family drifts away during this neglect. His wife divorces him and remarries. His own health deteriorates from years of eating fast food and unhealthy snacks. Even his son shows the same signs of a “business first” attitude. Newman finally understands what he missed and regrets how he let his work (and the remote) control his universe.

With our children going off to college, it’s easy to look back and feel some regret – the big game missed, the ‘N Sync concert tickets not purchased, the Disney vacation during their “perfect ages” not taken.

But regret is a crippling emotion. It can clamp down on you like a pair of too small gym shorts, overwhelming your thoughts until you take them off.

Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand’s famous author of short stories wrote, “Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; you can only wallow in it.”

Instead, we should view our children through the words of Thomas Merton: “The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

I don’t lament that our children have out grown out of pajamas with feet. Now that they are older, we can enjoy new adventures and experiences (they may even understand more of my jokes). I am comforted in knowing that my wife and I will always be their parents, ready to support, guide and love.

When I grew up in my parents’ house, my mother had a framed needlepoint hanging on the wall. It read “The best things we can give our children are roots and wings.”

So fly away Connor, fly away Kristin, may God keep you and all the college students safe until you come home again.

CF
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First published in the August 11, 2006 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2006 Christopher Fenoglio.

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Dear Dad,

I watched a really good movie last week with Tommy – Frequency, starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel. It came out in 2000 – did you ever see it?

Tommy gave the film high praise, so I really wanted to watch it with him. As you know, it’s important to share special moments with your children because you never know how many you’ll have.

The story is set in New York City in 1969. Frank Sullivan and his son John are huge Mets fans. Poor souls. Lucky for them it’s the year of the “Amazin’ Mets,” that stinking team that beat our Cubs and then defeated the Orioles to win the World Series.

That year we lived near Chicago, cheering for every Cubs victory and dying a little bit when they lost. How could they be leading the Mets by 13 games with just six weeks to go and then lose all those games at the end? It should have been the Cubs in the Series, not the Mets.

The night the Cubs officially lost the pennant, I remember how upset you were. While you were working at the hospital late one night, I wrote “Go Cubs in 1970” on single sheets of notebook paper and laid them on your bed. I was 11 years old at the time but I remember that night so clearly. Mom told me the next day that you liked the message. I hope so.

FrequencyAAnyway, Frequency shows how Frank, a NYC fireman, often talks after dinner on a short-wave radio. He even shows his six-year-old son John how to use it. Unfortunately for the family, Frank soon dies fighting a warehouse fire and never sees his son grow up to be a New York policeman.

Thirty years later, John finds his father’s short-wave radio and turns it on. Through the time-compressing properties of the visible Aurora Borealis (and a lot of movie magic), John picks up a signal and begins talking to his father in a time before the fatal fire.

FrequencyBThey talk back and forth in a regular conversation, each sitting in the same house, though separated by 30 years. After they sort out the reality of their incredible connection, the son tells the father how he died and tries to convince him to take a different path and save himself.

I wonder what I would say to you, Dad, if I had that same opportunity. Would I try to get you to stop smoking and avoid a lot of fried foods? I know I couldn’t keep you from eating our favorite salami or Mom’s bagna calda, but perhaps a few more salads and a lot more exercise might have prolonged your life.

When I look in the mirror and see a younger you, I know that I need to watch my own weight and other vital health numbers like my blood pressure and cholesterol. Maybe I can convince myself to improve my lifestyle, so that you’ll always live on through me.

The film blossoms into a full-blown murder mystery, as the son/cop investigates a serial murderer who still terrorizes the community. In one timeline, there are only three murders, but after Frank is saved, eight more murders occur. Father and son work together, thirty years apart, to track clues, discover the killer’s identity and stop him before more murders permanently scar other families.

Just like in Back to the Future, photographs change as people are affected by the police work. At the film’s end, father and son are very grateful for the additional time they had together.

But it’s never enough, is it Dad?

Just a few weeks ago I thought about calling you to ask which team would win the Super Bowl, as I have many times before. Then I remembered that you are in a better place where earthly concerns no longer matter.

Can you see us from heaven? Do you know how much we miss you? Can you pray for me and our family as we struggle with the same life issues that you faced and conquered?

I wish I could talk to you again and hear your friendly greeting “Hi, guy.” I heard your voice in a dream last week. It filled me with so much warmth and love that it hurts now to recall it.

The photographs in my mind won’t change in the coming years, they are frozen forever. Future photos will never show your face and smile.

But it’s my hope that my sons and daughter will have many, many years of photographs with their father. Good times, bad times, even times when nothing special is going on. We’ll be together, enjoying each other’s company and hopefully talking on the same frequency.

We never know how long we will have with our loved ones, so seize the day while the sun still shines, until Our Father calls each of us home to His side.

Daddy, I’ll talk to you later.

Love,
Chris

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First published in the February 24, 2006 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2006 Christopher Fenoglio.

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It’s a remarkable joy of parenthood to see one’s reflection in the lives of your children. Whether it’s a common habit, a shared outlook on life or similar ways to work out problems, it’s always great to see a little bit of myself in my children.

I was in that frame of mind when I watched The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe last week. To my surprise, I saw some of myself in the Pevensie children as well.

On the surface, Wardrobe is a fanciful tale, full of magical creatures, breathtaking events and grand themes. Underneath, it’s a personal journey of faith that calls for the belief in others and one’s own abilities in order to win the victory at the end.

NarniaIt starts in London during the German bombings of World War II. Like other children of that time, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter Pevensie are sent to live in the large country manor of the Professor (also known as Digory in the Narnia chronicle The Magician’s Nephew).

In that house, safe and bored, the children stumble upon the entrance to the realm of Narnia, a world under the spell of eternal winter by the evil White Witch.

But with the arrival of the two “sons of Adam” and the two “daughters of Eve,” Narnia begins to believe that an ancient prophecy may be fulfilled. Once we hear that “Aslan is on the move,” the witch’s powers start to weaken. Father Christmas arrives, the frozen waterfall melts, and springtime returns to the land. This good weather sets the stage for the “winner takes all” battle between good and evil.

The action sequences, battle scenes and computer-generated images are superb, but it’s the struggles of the four children and Aslan that really make this a deeply personal and spiritual film.

I know that each time I watch this film, I will see myself in each of the Pevensie children, such as …

Edmund, who feels oppressed by his older brother. In order to feel better about himself, he belittles his younger sister. But it’s not right to make someone else feel small just so you can feel big. Jealousy and revenge are true human emotions, ones that I pray for the strength to overcome. Father, help me to encourage and to love …

Like Susan, the sensible older sister who provides a voice of reason during their adventures. She openly cares for her brothers and sister, yet is faced with her own trials. To face these head on, she practices her archery and encourages Lucy to practice her dagger throwing (to hilarious results!) Susan hones her own abilities to their fullest in order to help others. Father, help me to use my own talents to encourage others and lift them up to new heights …

Like Peter, the oldest in his family, who must care for his siblings in their parents’ absence. When Peter proves he can protect his siblings by defeating the evil wolf Maugrim, he gains confidence in his abilities. Through his bravery and ingenuity, they survive the dangerous trip down the icy river and arrive safely at Aslan’s camp. There he is shown Cair Paravel, where he and his siblings are destined to rule, just as we are destined to sit by God’s side in heaven. Father, help me to accept the responsibilities laid before me and glorify you in all that I do in this world. There is so much on this earth to enjoy and love …

Like Lucy does in Narnia. Her sweet innocent smile of wonderment lights up when she steps into Narnia, seeing the beauty of Narnia despite the evil spell of winter. I want to be more like Lucy and see our world with brand new wonderment and beauty. Father, help me to see all life through the true eyes of a child, unfiltered by the lenses of ambition, greed, materialism and politics.

But of all the characters in Narnia, I wish to be more like Aslan. A soft-spoken creature who could be a mighty, terrible force when necessary, Aslan understands what it means to sacrifice one’s life for others.

When Aslan discovers that the White Witch can rightfully claim Edmunds’ life because of his betrayal, Aslan decides to take Edmund’s place. Surrounded by evil nipping at his heels, Aslan slowly climbs the altar steps. He allows others to deface and berate him, silently letting the evil have its way. For Aslan knows that his sacrifice will not only atone for Edmund’s sins, but will also bring forth a powerful army to defeat the White Witch.

That is what Jesus Christ did for us when he died on the cross for our sins, even though he was blameless. Now his death and his resurrection have produced an army of believers who can defeat the evil in this world. If I can be more like Aslan and sacrifice my life for others, then my life can also help defeat the evil in this world.

Father, with your love as my sword and my shield, I proclaim my love for you and charge into the battle – for Aslan, for Narnia, for You and the people of this world.

CF

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First published in the December 27, 2005 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2005 Christopher Fenoglio.

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Standing in front of Harry, encircled by the Death Eaters, Lord Voldemort says, “Shall I divulge how I truly lost my powers? It was love. When dear, sweet Lily Potter gave her life for her only son, she provided the ultimate protection.” – Scene from Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

The fourth Harry Potter film hit the silver screen two weeks ago, with theater seats gobbled up like so many Chocolate Frogs.

The massive ticket sales, together with the millions of books sold since 1998, makes Harry Potter and author J. K. Rowling a publishing phenomena and a big target for critics and half-baked ideas.

Chief among these ideas is that reading about Harry Potter will make magic and witchcraft more appealing to youngsters. And if young boys and girls like magic, then it’s just a short slippery slope until they fall in love with devil worshipping and join a satanic cult.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who takes the time to read the books will understand the fiction series is about love, sacrifice, friendship, loyalty, using your talents wisely and becoming the best person you can be. Since millions of youngsters are reading these books, I’m very hopeful that these values will be absorbed by future generations.

These values are further developed in the Goblet of Fire, the episode that widens the divide between good and evil and shows who belongs on each side.

On the good side we have Harry, Hermione and Ron, each experiencing teenage growing pains with emotional outbursts, racing hormones and a mixture of confusion and longing.

PotterOn the other side is the evil wizard Voldemort, who lost his corporal self when he tried to kill Harry. With the help of some loyal servants, known as Death Eaters, he regains his powers and returns to his full physical being.

That he lost his shape in the first place is the main reason why Harry Potter is known to the wizardry world as “the boy who lived.” As Voldemort explains to his followers in the film’s climatic scene, it was the power of a mother’s love that gave his body a thirteen-year sabbatical. With this ultimate sacrifice, Lily gave up her own life to save her son, a sacrifice that many parents experience, in lesser forms, every day.

Rolling over to the edge of the bed so a frightened youngster can sleep in the middle – getting up off the couch to get your son a drink before he falls asleep – committing to that extra day of work for a larger paycheck to make ends meet – all these sacrifices are born from love for our children.

When I was in the seminary, trying to discern my own destiny, I struggled with the two paths of fathering a family and celibacy. “Raising a family is just as important a ministry as the priesthood,” said a friend of mine. “When you love your children, you feel a little of the love that God has for all of us.”

It’s a living connection between God and my children, with my wife and I smack dab in the middle. Sometimes it’s not pleasant, as our teenagers have had their own growing pains with emotional outbursts, racing hormones and a mixture of confusion and longing. But on the whole, those relationships mean everything to me and provide a strong connection to the love of God.

Being a living example of God’s love is not restricted to parents. Everyone is called to sacrifice one’s time, talent and treasure for the good of others. Every day is a personal “Triwizard Tournament” in which we have to navigate the maze of modern life, battle the dragons of ambition, apathy and discrimination, and keep from drowning in a sea of half truths and innuendos. The road can be very difficult at times.

But as the wise headmaster Dumbledore says to Harry at the end of the film, life is “a choice between what is right and what is easy.”

Faced with mounting political pressures from the Ministry of Magic to discredit Harry’s account of the re-emergence of the dark Lord Voldemort, Dumbledore implores the students to do what’s right and support one another in these dark times.

“All you need is love,” wrote John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1967 in the midst of war protests, political controversies and spiritual awakenings. Some of the same situations exist today while new problems have arisen. We are constantly faced with the choice of doing what’s right and what’s easy.

The solution remains the same. All you need is love.

CF
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First published in the December 2, 2005 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2005 Christopher Fenoglio.

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“Momma, what’s my destiny?” “That’s just something you’ll have to figure out for yourself.” – a scene from Forrest Gump

The walnut table in my Mom’s kitchen sits quietly in the sunlight. It used to be bigger, expanded with leaves to handle the meals and conversations of nine family members. But now it sits smaller, crowded with books and mail, with just enough space for one place setting.

This kitchen table was the center of my universe during my school years, the site of many “kitchen table talks” with Mom. It was from this table that I would look ahead. Never too far into the future, usually a semester or two, testing the water with my big toe to feel what it would be like on my own. What road should I take and where will I end up?

Looking back, I don’t see a straight line. I see a complex road map filled with a thousand streets intersecting at many points. My path, highlighted in yellow, is filled with many twists and turns.

At each of the turns I could have gone in the opposite direction, altering the yellow line and changing my future. Was I destined to take this path? Did I decide each turn by myself? What role did God play in this journey?

GumpWhen Forrest asks his mother about his destiny, he has already led an eventful life. He was an All-American football player, a decorated Vietnam War hero and a gazillionaire as a shrimpin’ boat captain. He even taught Elvis to dance.

Unlike Chance, the gardener in Being There, Forrest does not wander aimlessly through life. He follows his good instincts and the advice of people he respects. But when Jenny talks about jumping off a bridge or Lieutenant Dan wants to die like his ancestors, Forrest steps up and challenges them, acting on his own good sense of what is right.Through it all, Forrest still asks for guidance about his destiny. His wise mother, however, resists the urge to give him a map. “I happen to believe that you make your own destiny. You have to do the best with what God gave you.”

As a Catholic in middle Tennessee, we are often faced with different Christian views. A traditional Protestant belief, known as predestination, states that we can do nothing about our salvation. God has already determined our destiny and by his grace some of us (but not all) are saved to manifest divine grace here on earth.

Mrs. Gump’s advice leans the other way, acknowledging God’s gift of our talents and grace, but she puts the responsibility of Forrest’s destiny squarely on his own shoulders.

Somewhere in the middle is the traditional Catholic belief that our gracious God desires the salvation of all and wills us to cooperate freely with His grace in the working out of our salvation. Thus we have the choice to follow Him, live in a more Christ-like manner, and do our part to spread God’s love to others around us.

Perhaps we are each riding a feather, sometimes floating on a breeze created by God to move us in a particular direction, other times steering that feather ourselves along the path we choose.

The best flights are when we are always checking the wind, spending prayerful time to understand God’s will in our lives, and steering our feather to keep the wind at our back, helping us along our journey.

Forrest comes close to this same understanding near the end of the film. When talking to Jenny at her gravesite, trying to understand the past so he can raise little Forrest without her, he says, “I don’t know if we each have a destiny or if we’re all floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze. But I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both are happening at the same time.”

Sometimes I wonder about the points on my road map where I turned one way instead of another. What would life be like if I had taken another path? Some of the changes might have been superficial, such as owning a different house if I had stayed with a particular job. Other paths would have drastically changed my life, such as returning to Illinois after college instead of meeting my wife in Nashville.

Looking back, I took this path because I listened to God’s will and made my own decisions on what is best for my life. Many times it seems like the wind is at my back and I am confidently facing the future with God’s grace in my sails.

Still, there are times when I have to dock my ship at my mother’s house, sit at the kitchen table and have another good talk with her to stay on the right path. The upcoming holidays will be a great time for this – I hope you will find time to do the same.

CF
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First published in the November 4, 2005 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2005 Christopher Fenoglio.

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LembasExcerpt from Lembas for the Soul

Strolling into the auditorium after the bell, my daughter’s friends and classmates slowly took their seats. Getting out of regular class for a video presentation was a rare event and they were going to savor every minute.

“Your dad is going to talk about The Lord of the Rings films?” they asked Kristin. “Yes” she told them, silently praying that I would not embarrass her in front of her friends.

I was saying the same prayer myself.

The school’s Theology Department had invited me to speak on the religious themes in the three Peter Jackson films. But with just a PowerPoint presentation and a videotape, could I keep her friends entertained for the next ninety minutes? What if they were not fans of The Lord of the Rings like me? Would I waste their time or would they be inspired? Most importantly, what will my daughter think after her father speaks to the entire junior class of her high school?

I got the invitation because months ago I wrote three articles for our local diocesan newspaper. Writing about religious themes in popular culture, especially films, is one of my passions.

The editors liked my short devotionals about the three main characters: Frodo, who time and time again made a conscious, willful decision to do everything he could to fulfill the quest; Gollum, who struggled with the good and bad within himself and who found a trusting response from Frodo, but a suspicious one from Sam; and Aragorn, who conquered his own doubts and became all that he could be to defeat Sauron the Deceiver.

I could center my speech on these themes, but I was still not sure I could keep the attention of the students. High school students can get bored so quickly. They will probably want more.

Perhaps they would be interested to hear how I flew to Hollywood for the press viewing of the third and final film, The Return of the King. I could describe how I checked into the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills and later met Sir Ian McKellan (Gandalf) and producer Barry Osborne that evening in the lounge.

I could also tell the students how we had to surrender our cell phones and cameras before we were admitted into the theater. New Line Cinema wanted to prevent images from being uploaded onto the Internet two weeks before the film was released. I could describe how we sat there with an Arwen bag of popcorn and an Aragorn cup of Diet Coke, cheering for Eowyn when she slew the Witch-King of Angmar and tearing during Sam’s determined words to Frodo – “I can carry you.”

No, these stories might hold their attention for a little while longer, but it wouldn’t last. The students needed more details to help them relate to the films on a deeper, more personal level.

After showing excerpts from the three films and summarizing the main religious themes, I asked the students “If you could have a real conversation with one of the actors, what would you say to him or her?”

Without waiting for an answer, I described the interviews that I conducted on the morning after previewing The Return of the King. In a small room with twelve other religious journalists, we sat around a small table with an empty chair. One by one, for twenty minutes at a time, the actors, writers, producers, composer and director sat with us and discussed the film.

Not only did we learn lots of background details on script composition and the film-making process, we also saw the actors in a brand new light. Each of them had developed a strong connection with the character they portrayed. Many of the actors also shared personal insights to their work, insights that left a lasting impression on me.

For instance:

Elijah Wood (Frodo) – a thoughtful and energetic young man who said his scenes with Smeagol/Gollum were motivated by a caring nature for someone addicted to a powerful substance.

Dominic Monaghan (Merry) and Billy Boyd (Pippin) – two pals who not only had a good time but also took up the cause of caring for the environment, especially worldwide reforestation projects.

Andy Serkis (Smeagol/Gollum) – a humble man who was genuinely thankful when we praised his work.

Sean Astin (Sam) – an accomplished actor who said the best part of the filming process was that his family could be with him in New Zealand.

Liv Tyler (Arwen) – a newlywed who implored our students to “be nice to each other” and “care for your friends.”

Orlando Bloom (Legolas) – who in a quiet, but well-spoken manner, talked about Elves and Dwarves getting along as friends. If they can get along, why can’t other people follow their example?

As I described these real people and the motivations behind their acting, the students listened and watched with great attention.

I hoped that they would identify with the actors, realizing that they share many of the same feelings, insecurities, desires for stable relationships and the need to be part of a cause for the greater good. By taking care of their friends, preserving the environment and respecting the cultures of people they don’t know, these high school students could help make our own world a better place in which to live. For as Galadriel says to Frodo in the first film, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

As I finished my speech and the lunch bell rang, the students rose to leave the auditorium. My daughter and a few of her friends, however, walked down the aisle towards me.

“Dad,” she said, “that was pretty cool.”

I smiled and said “thanks,” knowing that those words were indeed high praise from my teenage daughter.

CF

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Excerpt from Lembas for the Soul, How The Lord of the Rings Enriches Everyday Life, edited by Catherine Kohman and published by White Tree Press 2005. Click here to order your copy.

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“I won’t lose you like I lost my mother.” Anakin Skywalker to his wife Padmè in Star Wars Episode III – The Revenge of the Sith
When we are faced with losing someone we love, we can respond in many different ways.

Some people freeze, overcome by the fear and unsure what to do next. Some people block it out and avoid the issue. Some people just hope everything works out by itself. Some people try to do everything humanly possible to prevent the loss from occurring.

For Anakin Skywalker in the most recent Star Wars film, the fear drives him down a darker path.

As an only child to a single parent, Anakin was very close to his Mother, calm and happy in her presence. He has the same relationship with his wife Padmè, who gives Anakin the unconditional love he desperately desires.

AnakinBut Anakin is tormented by Darth Sidious with death-filled nightmares, first about his mother and then his wife. These nightmares keep alive the fear in him that he will lose the person he most dearly loves.

This fear proves to be the acid that dissolves Anakin’s Jedi training. Motivated by the belief that he can cheat death and keep Padmè alive, Anakin grows in hate and strength within the Dark Side of the Force.

Anakin rationalizes that this new power was created out of love for Padmè, but his fear of losing her fuels his quest for power and he is sucked into a deepening spiral of anger and hate until he ultimately becomes Darth Vader.

The seductive path of the Dark Side is described by Master Yoda to Luke in Episode V: “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering (and the Dark Side). Only when you are at peace can the Force flow through you and give you strength.”

Peace. Pause for a moment and say the word again. Peace. By taking time during our busy days for a few moments of prayer and peace, we can feel God’s presence in our own lives.

But is it possible to be at peace when we are faced with the emotional challenges and our own fears of losing someone we dearly love?

If you are a young Baby Boomer like me, you are also a member of the “Sandwich Generation.” This group of people is in the middle of two big cares: caring for our elderly parents at the end of their lives and caring for our children at the beginning of theirs.

I worry about my parents’ health, often feeling helpless to assist them with their illnesses. There are times when I wish I had enough money or time or living space to take care of them. But how much do I do to help them get well and how much do I put into God’s hands?

On the other end, I worry about my daughter who will leave soon to start college. It’s hard to imagine her away from home for many months. She adds so much goodness and life to our home (plus a good dose of teenage angst and nonsensical arguments!) How will I get through my days without her presence? How will I keep her safe? How much do I put into God’s hands?

It comes down to a matter of faith – faith in others, faith in ourselves, faith in God. Anakin struggled with his faith in the Force and staying true to his Jedi values, but the allure of power was too strong and he was consumed by the Dark Side.

For me, I will encourage my parents to get good health information, but they need to take the real steps themselves. For my daughter, I can help prepare her for the college experience, but she will have to make some of her own decisions. With emails and phone calls, I can be close by.

“Let go Luke, use the Force,” says the spirit of Obi-Wan in Episode IV as he convinces Luke to turn off the targeting computer and use the Force to guide his blasts to destroy the Death Star. He very easily could have said, “Let go Luke, trust in God.”

In the movies, there is usually a happy ending. In real life, it’s not very tidy or certain, and many times we lose the ones we love. First we are afraid and then we are angry. These are natural, human emotions. But if we let go of our fears and trust in God, we will be closer to being at peace and knowing His Way, and can deal with our losses on Earth.

Peace.

CF

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First published in the June 17, 2005 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2005 Christopher Fenoglio.

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