Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunshine Cleaning

I saw the movie "Sunshine Cleaning" a week ago. It's about two sisters who, down on their luck, start a cleaning business specializing in tackling the nasty messes left behind after moments of extreme violence. I expected to like the movie, but I didn't.

There's a scene early in the film where a white-collar man, obviously having a bad day, goes to a gun shop looking to purchase a shot gun. "Ahhh..." we wonder. Is he looking to off his wicked boss? Has he finally come to the end of the line with his cheating spouse? No... it's neither of those. Taking a 12 gage shotgun shell out of his pocket he quickly puts it into the shotgun and without hesitation kills himself.

The next scene involves police detectives, including one who's mistress (the star of our show) has money problems. He decides to suggest that she go into the lucrative and well paying clean-up-blood-and-guts-and-brains business the next time he meets up with her at the local Motel 6. In the mean time this black comedy has our stereotypical gun-shop-workers nonchalantly discovering more pieces of our now deceased while-collar gentleman. "Ah... here's a little more of his brains over here."

I didn't like this movie. At its core it looks at the question of how people face the various and many problems that we all have. Our hero's father faces his problems through delusional dreams of making it rich someday. The main character's sister, a partner in the business, chooses to walk through life in a coma-like clueless state. Even our main character, though responsible enough to start a business and do fairly well at it, regrets her past but still desires the approval old girl friends and remains the plaything of his old (now married) high school boyfriend.

The people we don't get to know in this movie are the one's who choose to tackle their problems in ways that leaves a big mess: the murdered lover, the recluse mother who dies without anyone noticing for months, the white collar worker who has run out of options.

What horrible hopelessness. I wonder how many others in this world feel cornered like many of the characters (and victims) in this movie. And I certainly hope they are capable of making some better choices.

I must turn to the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. Even when we make pour choices in this life there is always a road back to Christ. He is the Sunshine Cleaner who cleanses us from our sins through his messy death on the cross. The more I live the more convinced I become that he is truly God's answer for us in contrast with the options the world leaves us with. "Sunshine Cleaning" displays many of the world's options. They are all dead ends. When rays of acceptance, community, friendship, and abiding love appear at the end of the film, however, you see a tiny glimpse of the kinda gift God gives us so powerfully through The Light of the World.

The world's options are a disgusting dead end. The options provided by Christ are a ray of Sunshine. Bask in the light and never give up hope.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Busy Signal

Valerie said the internet was not working this morning. She tried rebooting it, but still nothing. In the back of her head she wondered whether our old, slow, antique Compaq desktop computer was finished. I said I would take a look at it. Shortly thereafter I discovered that the cable was out too. It's not our computer after all, that's a relief. Ahh, but then the phones must also be out. I checked. Yes, they were dead. The problem was with Wide Open West, and nothing on our part. Their "Triple Play" of cable television, telephone, and high-speed internet was just thrown out at the plate: out of commission. It was now 8:45am... I thought I better give WOW a call on my cell. They didn't have a grip on my AT&T cell phone, so I knew it would work.

Of course, the line was busy. And with that busy signal my mind went in directions I didn't expect. Today is September 11.

This morning I had gone about my business as I would have any other day. I went for a walk and mailed a bill at a mail box. I had breakfast with my kids and did a little laundry. The TV was not on, nor was the radio. It was just us and our usual weekday morning rituals, problems, and routines.

September 11, 2001 was a morning not all that different, except I was in the hospital with my wife and our two 4-day-old babies. (Yes, four DAYS old.) Grant was under the bili lights for phototherapy to treat jaundice. We didn't have the TV on that morning, nor any radio either. I walked down to the cafeteria to get some bagels and cream cheese. It was after 9 and things just seemed so quiet down there. The TV was on when I returned to Grant's hosptial room. You know what I saw.

Hearing that busy signal this morning reminded me that today was September 11. Maybe there were more sinister reasons why my WOW Triple Play was not working this morning. Now my mind didn't stay there for long... just a few moments, after all there was no terrorist plot against my broadband. But my mind went there anyway.

On September 11, 2001 I heard a busy signal all morning as I tried to call my brother who lived in New York City. He lived in Upper Manhattan, but often enjoyed taking the subway straight down to the World Trade Center to go to the Borders in the mall that was located in the lower levels of one of the towers. It was 100 to 1... no 1,000 to 1 chance he actually would have made the trip down there that morning. But it was a chance nonetheless. It was not until early afternoon, when I heard his voice, that I knew the odds were with him that day. There finally was a ring instead of a busy signal.

There are many people remembering this eighth anniversary today. Everyone has a memory... a story... about that day. Together we remember those who lost their lives and remember those who continue to mourn. But let us also remember that every day is a blessing from God to be embraced. You never know when you are going to get a busy signal.