There are some movies that I can watch over and over and over again. One of these movies is Sleepless in Seattle, a Nora Ephron film. It is the quintessential chick flick. There is a mysterious quality about works of art that never grow old, that leave us feeling happier after we have wrapped ourselves in their wonder. They contain a human truth that touches something in us that is beyond explanation.
The movie about how two strangers find each other and true love is funny, engaging, quirky, and completely unrealistic. And perhaps therein lies its truth. It takes us to that place where we understand that there is more to life than that which we can see. There is more to life than what we can understand. It leaves us with the hope that there is such a thing as a love that will not be denied. It reminds us that love and faith walk hand in hand.
The gospel according to Kelly Canter in the movie “Country Strong” teaches us not to be afraid to fall in love, that we ought to fall in love with as many things as possible. This is wisdom because all too often, we are afraid to love because love makes us vulnerable. It makes us crazy and foolish.
In Sleepless in Seattle, the main character—Annie Reed, played by Meg Ryan—and her best friend are in love with the movie An Affair to Remember. Annie believes the movie has her thinking and doing crazy things in the name of finding her true love—Sam Baldwin played by Tom Hanks. The movie inside a movie also speaks of love that is destined to be.
When we fall in love, it is the closest that we come to understanding the heart of God. I say and say again that the Bible is true when it tells us that “God is Love.” It is true when it tells us that love is strong as death, and that it is a fire that cannot be extinguished. We may fall out of like, lust, need, and greed, but we do not fall out of love.
I say and say again that even if the object or our love does not love us in return, that our having loved is its own gift. It is its own blessing because when we expand out the way we feel about our beloved to infinity and eternity that is how God loves us.
The meaning of our living is communion. The elements of communion—bread and wine—represent not only the sacrificial life, death and resurrection of Jesus but it also represents the radical love that is the living water that Jesus offers. Jesus, the Christ, is an example of love incarnate, and those of us who claim to follow Jesus are called to live this love.
The bread and wine of communion also represents sustenance and joy. Most days we are so busy providing the sustenance of life, that we forget to provide the joy of life. Nora Ephron brought us joy. She was a keen observer of the human condition, of living, growing older, and facing death with grace. She advised us not to postpone our joy.
As I write this, I am listening to the sound track of Sleepless in Seattle. Jimmy Durante is singing “As Time Goes By,” another famous movie song. It reminds us that “the world will always welcome lovers as time goes by.”
Nora Ephron was a lover, and we will miss her.
Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at JustPeaceTheory.com. She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.