In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I watched Legends of the Fall this weekend. I know, right? duh. Originally, I just got caught up in the scenery of my beloved Montana, however, I also was sucked into a storyline I'd long forgotten. Let's just say it wasn't the typical Valentine's Day flick ... definitely not Ever After.
I was struck by the bittersweet theme of intense love and hatred--all of it lost at the end of the movie.
The eldest brother says to the wild Tristan:
"I followed all the rules, man's and God's. And you, you followed none of them. And they all loved you more..."
The "good" brother envies the wild brother, yet while loved, Tristan still lived a life alone, ostracized, guilty, scandelous, unfaithful, broken, haunted...because of the emptiness in his soul that he could not flee. Interesting that it was something to be envied.
The credits rolled and I remarked wryly to my husband, "well, that was a pleasant film."
He nodded. "Pretty depressing wasn't it?"
I was quiet then remarked, "I'm glad I watched it. It reminds me of the emptiness of man no matter how you spin it. Without God as the center, following the rules of any man, ourselves, or even what we see as the laws of God, is futile. Worthless, loveless, plunder."
As Valentine's Day rolls around it reminds me of man's quest to fulfill that deep inner need for a fulfilling love. Several people in my office become number one grumps on Valentine's Day--thwarted in love--and all that.
Our first year of marriage found me crushed on Valentine's Day. It came and went. Not a card, not a flower, not a specially reserved kiss for the day. I ended the night in tears--much to the chagrin of a bewildered husband. The conversation when something like:
"What'd I do?"
"DO? What DIDN'T you do? It's VALENTINE'S DAY!"
"It's a man-made holiday for people who need to be reminded to say 'I love you'."
"Oh." He paused, and stared at me with the clarity of overly logical blue eyes. He responded, not sarcastic or witty, just an honest inquiry. "You really want a card coerced by a holiday and hype to tell you I love you? Wouldn't you rather I do it of my own accord when you're not expecting it on that day when you need me the most?"
STAB! UGH! Sigh...oh m' gosh how romantic was that? A man who didn't want to be TOLD by a holiday what he MUST do. A man who preferred to express his love on his own terms, from his own soul...
And isn't that was love is? Honest, pure, selfless, sacrificial ... In Legends, every character sought love to fulfill their emptiness. Love was not given it was taken.
In the end of the movie the narrater speaks: "I always thought Tristan would die young, but it was everyone else he loved who was lost. He was the rock that they broke against."
This Valentine's Day, strive to give sacrificially to the ones who mean the most. Flee from the temptation to hoard love to yourself in an effort to satisfy your personal longings. Don't be the rock that your loved ones break against, instead, show them the love of Jesus--that sacrificial Man who was broken for the ones He loved.