We disagreed when we saw it. One Christmas Eve, my family went to see a movie, The Straight Story, in celebration of my nephew's birthday. I liked it but I was the minority. It's a true tale but slow on the action. Alvin Straight and his younger brother, Lyle, have been estranged for ten years. Alvin, in his seventies with deteriorating health, gets news that Lyle has suffered a stroke. Longing to see his sibling one last time, Alvin decides to visit but there is a problem. He, an Iowan, can no longer drive a car legally and his brother lives in Wisconsin, nearly three hundred miles to the north. In a solution too far-fetched if not true, Alvin buys a John Deere riding lawn mower, hooks up a wagon, and takes off in search of peace of mind, at a cruising speed of five miles per hour. Director David Lynch received kudos for his screenplay, starring Richard Farnsworth as the older Straight brother. In the end, after a memorable and beautifully illustrated journey through the heartland, Alvin pulls into the yard of Lyle's ramshackle house and calls his brother's name. At first, I thought he was too late but Lyle stumbles out...and the healing begins. The film was critically acclaimed but, like I said, not by the Hawley family.
How important is reconciliation to the Lord? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus places it above giving.
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)
Can hard feelings with another interfere with God's acceptance of what we would return to him? Evidently so! The immediacy of the command leads us to believe that it is critical to take care of the anger/grudge at once. In the movie, I don't recall an explanation for the schism between Alvin and Lyle but does it matter? We all know examples in families of feuds that span decades that sometimes are put to rest around deathbeds and sometimes have no resolution. The longer they go, the more difficult to fix. Alvin Straight used a John Deere. A telephone is a much simpler option. Don't be left standing at the altar.
Applicable quote of the day:
"Forgive, forget; conclude, and be agreed."
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