Liam Neeson Vs My Great Aunt

This past week I played my part in two events that in terms of social importance really are at the opposite ends of the scale.

In the first, I attended a screening of Liam Neeson’s latest film ‘The Grey’. In the second, I served as pallbearer at my great aunt’s funeral. In both of these ‘dramas’ the themes of humanity and mortality are difficult to ignore.

In ‘The Grey’ director Joe Carnahan has crafted a fine movie that is both a cinematically and philosophically brutal experience for the audience. It is a visceral existentialist hymn to the raw, disinterested and pitiless nature of the universe. In this worldview a man is the final ‘actor’ and if his life is to have any meaning he must craft it himself – an artist against the cruel emptiness and darkness.

At my great aunt’s funeral an alternative understanding of the nature of humanity and existence was proffered. She was eighty-nine years old when she died. She was the youngest of fourteen siblings and she never married. She spent much of her life in the care and service of others and it would be difficult to argue that she had either the agency or the opportunity to make her own ‘meaning’. The point is she didn’t need to.

Unbeknownst to most of her mourners, my great aunt kept the following verse on her person at all times.

In the center of the circle, Of the will of God I stand, There can be no second causes, All must come from His dear hand. When dark clouds obscure my vision, And the way I cannot see, I will trust Him in the darkness, For I know He pilots me.

It comes from a poem by Betty Stam. Here it is in full.

In the Center of the Circle

In the center of the circle Of the will of God I stand, As I launch from sheltering harbor To obey all His commands. What though waves overwhelm my vessel, And grim fears my faith assail, Still I’ll stay upon His promise, For that cannot, will not, fail.

In the center of the circle, Of the will of God I stand, Where the warfare wages fiercest— ’Tis the place that He has planned. Though dread foes may storm my castle, And the battle seem but lost, I will claim in Him the victory, And hold on what ere the cost.

In the center of the circle, Of the will of God I stand, There can be no second causes, All must come from His dear hand. When dark clouds obscure my vision, And the way I cannot see, I will trust Him in the darkness, For I know He pilots me.

In the center of the circle, Of the will of God I stand, Though the universe around me Shows small trace of His dear hand, Yet in darkness as in daylight, In the gloom or sunshine fair, I will trust Him, for His presence, For I know He’s always near.

Advertisements

About this entry