With a tagline about a man who wanted a funeral before he died, the movie “Get Low” sounded like a good movie for Lent. I watched it yesterday. I was struck by several things that I want to share…
What’s the deal with that ornery old man who lives in the woods? He has a “No Trespassing” sign in front of his house and a shotgun to keep people away from him. There are many stories about the old man––he is considered to be someone who is dangerous and threatening but nobody really knows exactly why. In the beginning of the movie we see a house burning down and a figure running away from it. Perhaps the old man is somehow responsible? He doesn’t speak much until he wakes up one night with a premonition of death caused by the appearance of the woman pictured on his wall. After that, the old man, named Felix, meets with a pastor and a funeral home director to plan a funeral and a funeral party while he’s still alive. We found out later that the party is a way for him to tell his story and make peace before his actual passing.
Felix has something to get off his chest, a secret, a sin that has tortured him for 40 years. His pastor friend tells him that he needs to ask for forgiveness from Jesus. In the following scene, Felix wonders to himself, “Why should I ask for forgiveness from Jesus? What did I ever do to him?” That line really struck me. Felix’s sin is reminiscent of King David’s. He knows subconsciously that sin is not just personal, it is communal. Sin injures the Body, it injures Christ himself. When Felix asks forgiveness from the townspeople, he is asking forgiveness from Christ. Finally, after he has made peace with God and neighbor, Felix can fall asleep. The movie reminds me of spiritual writers who encourage thinking about one’s death and possible death bed regrets. Why do they encourage this? In order to make peace with God here and now, before it is really too late.
The movie “Get Low” proved to be a worthy Lenten meditation and I can’t recommend it highly enough.