I cry at movies. Sometimes I think this is totally understandable. At the end of Saving Private Ryan, I sobbed as big fat tears fell down my face. I couldn’t stop thinking about men who had maybe died so my grandfathers could come home. I know, I’m a of bit of a wreck in this way, but I can’t help it, I’m an emotional guy.
I cry at a lot of movies, but no movie makes me cry like Field of Dreams. I played a little baseball in high school and so that whole baseball theme has a lot of emotional energy for me. (“Emotional energy”? What a pansy thing to write. What is wrong with me? Sorry. Moving on.) The part when Moonlight Graham steps off the field to save the little girl from choking and you know that he can’t go back; he can’t go back to his dream of playing baseball – wow. Almost crying just writing about it.
The real movement from normal human to puddle of tears, uncontrollable cry snot, and quick breaths between sobs comes when Ray’s dad comes to the field to play and Ray says, “Hey dad, how about a catch?” Niagara Falls. I was concerned I may have some unresolved father issues (Dad, if you are reading this, I’m sure it’s nothing), but the more I thought about it they were tears of thanksgiving for a dad that I did get to play catch with, a lot. I had a great father who coached my baseball teams, but also helped with homework and took me to church and watched Holy Grail with me despite my mother’s protests.
Yesterday when I cried watching Tangled, Disney’s revamp of Rapunzel, I had a bit of an epiphany (I know, I had an epiphany while watching the movie Tangled, I’ll take epiphanies where I can get them). At the end of the movie, Rapunzel is reunited with her parents after having been hid away in a tower for 18 years by an evil witch. As Rapunzel and her mother embraced, I started to tear up, and I realized it was because I identified with the parents finding a lost child, not with the child finding her lost family. I cried at Field of Dreams because I was watching from Ray’s perspective finally connecting with his dad, but I cried at Tangled because I was connecting with the parent perspective.
I guess I have turned a corner in the whole growing up thing from child (though I am still a child, of course) to parent. Maybe I should have realized this earlier (I have a 6 year old), but I just hadn’t had such a clear example. In retrospect I think this change occurred the moment I heard my eldest’s heart beat at our first ultrasound. When I saw that little person swimming around in my wife’s womb, and heard her heartbeat, I had a new set of “most important” things. I knew at the deepest part of my being that something else was more important than I was, and I knew this in a different way than the conceptual way I had accepted it at my marriage or at any other time I tried to make the “other” more important.
And I think this new understanding is deeply Trinitarian. Only the Trinity exists completely and totally for the “other.” And the other is us. As much as I love my children and as much as I realize how deeply I care for them and as much as I would be willing to sacrifice for them, I know it is only a shadow of what God would do, and has done, for me. God’s love for me, God’s total self gift, God divine parenthood is more complete, deeper, and mysterious than I can understand. So instead of understanding it, I am just going to learn to accept it (like a son asking to play catch with his dad, like a parent embracing their lost child). And I am going to remember it every time I cry at movies.