The Way on Leading and Living
The Way (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)
Recently I saw the movie The Way and I could not stop thinking about it. And the line that stuck with me is this: "You don't choose a life Dad ... you live one."
In fact, my husband and I saw it together and then we each went to see it separately again because of how much we thought the movie made us think about how we are leading and living our lives.
"The Way" is a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends, and the challenges we face while navigating this ever changing and complicated world. Martin Sheen plays Tom, an irascible American doctor who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son (played by Emilio Estevez), killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James.
Rather than return home, Tom decides embark on the historical pilgrimage to honor his son's desire to finish the journey. What Tom doesn't plan on, is the profound impact the journey will have on him. While he thinks he is on "the way" by himself as a personal quest, he meets interesting characters along the way that also influence his thinking and his life. I grew attached to these characters as each of them was on pilgrimage for some kind of healing or closure.
I thought of the book by Rabbi Harold Kushner When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough where he talks about there is a time in our lives when we change from focusing from looking ahead to how high we are climbing the corporate ladder to looking behind to determine if our lives are making a difference--which is legacy work.
During the movie, I also thought of our three boys who are each on their own life journey now. They are living their lives and the movie reminded me to "let go" and let them live it. While sometimes they make choices I would not make, we gave them wings and now I have to let them fly. And when Martin Sheen starts the journey that his son did not get to complete, you can see that he has decided to live his life differently. The son had a lasting impact on him and the friends he makes on the journey challenge his thinking also.
In an interview, Estevez said the movie is about “pro people, pro life — not anti — anything.” He also called it a celebration of life. Martin Sheen described the film as one that exposes the brokenness of humanity, but also the connectedness we have with each other and with God, even if we don’t recognize it.
"The Way", written and directed by Emilio Estevez, was filmed entirely in Spain and France along the actual Camino de Santiago. Interestingly, besides its spiritual and scenic aspects, the movie passes through Galicia, birthplace of Sheen's father, Francisco, to whom the film is dedicated.
For me, making my trips to the monastery for silent retreats is part of walking "the way" for me. This is my time for reflection, question, and renewal.