John Hughes was a gifted filmmaker.
I enjoy his holiday movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
The humor makes me laugh. But, the script pushes me to think.
Hughes creates an interesting clash between two travelers. This is a struggle against the odds and each other to get home to their families.
Moments of tension between the travelers is revealing.
Tension has a way of doing this to us.
I think Christmas in its on unique way creates a type of tension.
For Christmas that tension is wrapped in the trappings of the pursuit of perfection and the hope of surviving the madness it creates.
Right now, I’m uncertain that even Christmas can quell the tension in America.
We are divided, fractured like a battered road surface on a cold winter morning.
Deep inside the fissures of our souls that tension is entrenched.
Somehow, someway, we must realize the taut toxicity of this tension isn’t good for us.
In Planes,Trains, and Automobiles, one of the travelers has a quiet moment of self-talk. He considers his multiple imperfections and asks himself—“When am I ever going to wake up?”
I wonder the same about America—when are we ever going to wake up?
Perhaps, the potential to wake up is in our hearts.
Even in the Christmas story, I sense tension was present in the hearts of Mary and Joseph. Despite this strain, their hearts found the way to trust.
Presently, our tension is grounded in lots of things, but mistrust is a key contributor.
Our hearts are long overdue to open up to each other.
Failure to reconstruct our hearts to trust will cause them to snap.
We can’t let that happen.
No, this Christmas we need to give each other a gracious gift—a hopeful, open, trusting heart.
Author’s note: This letter to the editor appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on December 18, 2020. Photo obtained legally.