Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Human Experience

Since "The Human Experience" first began its national screenings a few years ago, I have been eager to see the film. Last night I finally had the opportunity.

All I can say is, "Wow." There is something so simple and beautiful about the film's ability to encounter "ordinary" human persons across the globe, asking questions like, "What is the meaning of life?" Without being remotely "preachy," the film succeeds in portraying the beauty of every human life, the gift of living. Even in extreme situations of suffering -- those things we have been trained to say render life meaningless -- we see persons who know that to live is to be a gift.

What we see in the film is that every life has a purpose. It's a purpose and a meaning not grounded in what we do but in who we are. The words "image and likeness of God" are never uttered during the 90 minutes, but they are lived, intuited and experienced.

Life is not meant to be selfishly hoarded. Rather, we "cannot find ourselves except in a sincere gift of self" (Gaudium et Spes #24).

Listening to and entering into others' experiences has the power to transform our own perception of the world and our own future experiences. The way in which we encounter love informs our own way and ability to love others.

"The Human Experience" expresses all of this in cinematic grandeur, with scenes that communicate the beauty of life, the richness of history and the profundity of a smile. Perhaps it is best summed up in one of my favorite John Paul II quotes:
"Life is a talent (cf. Mt 25:14-30) entrusted to us so that we can transform it and increase it, making it a gift to others. No man is an iceberg drifting on the ocean of history. Each one of us belongs to a great family, in which he has his own place and his own role to play. Selfishness makes people deaf and dumb; love opens eyes and hearts, enabling people to make that original and irreplaceable contribution which, together with the thousands of deeds of so many brothers and sisters, often distant and unknown, converges to form the mosaic of charity which can change the tide of history."

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