Her Grace Is All She Has

The World Wanted Her to Change, So She Left It.

Duo Dickinson / 3.15.21

I do not like movies much. They are made, mostly, for the 60 second trailers that get our attention. They use formulas, star quality, imagery, sex, violence, and every other thing humans have wrecked our lives over to get $15 out of our hands.

Back in the day, “going to the movies” meant a night out: fun. That worked when I was young, with kids, and movies meant less to me as life crashed into hours and events overcame pastimes. Then the Plague killed what was left of the allure of “going to the movies.” And going to the small screen was, well, like every other thing we looked at. So a movie has less appeal to me than a two-year-old replay of an NFL game, or the 32nd viewing of a Law & Order episode. Those cannot disappoint because the expectations are always met. A low bar, but easy to meet, if not exceed.

So when my wife (who loves movies) suggested a film, I said, “No Rom Com and no Dra(h)m Com.” She did the due diligence, confirmed, and I complied. The movie she chose is called Land, and it was beautifully moving. It was just humans. Humans in extreme conditions, so it was worth watching. Beyond just a bit of early clumsiness, it was worth watching because it was just us. Broken, saving, human.

A woman is left with nothing. Her sister begs her not to kill herself. So she leaves — to a Montana-like place, to a cabin, tossing her sister’s call, and her phone, in the urban garbage can as she departs. The world overwhelmed her in the wake of her loss, so she leaves it: no phone, no car, just the food she has brought. Basically nothing of a life that was already gone, ripping her apart. She completely fails at living in isolation, fails to the point of death. To the point of attempted suicide — only the memory of the one she left, of her sister who loved her, ends the attempt. She has no food, heat, or hope — a hunter, in passing, notices her presence in her cabin’s chimney smoke, then her absence when that smoke is missing.

In the Hollywood portion of the show, he saves her life, then leaves, comes back, and teaches her to survive. No names. No touching. No “romantic tension.” Two humans — one broken, one responding — connect, episodically. They come to know first names. Only.

After two years (and scenery for the trailer, seen on a small TV screen), he gives her his dog as he leaves, “for a while.” She asks, “Why did you do this?”

“You were in my path.”

He is gone for a while, so she treks the long way to a town to find where he might be. In the last 10 minutes of the film, she finds him. He is dying, surrounded by the love of his wife’s family. In a sentence or two, he says that he “used to drink a lot” and his wife and child died “in a car crash.”

One wanted to die. The other killed. One is dying. The other is saved. She admits, finally, that her spouse, and her child, died senselessly, too. At the end of his life, he says to the woman, whose last name he never knew, “Thank you. You allowed me to die in a state of grace.”

Alone with his dog, she uses his phone to connect with an astonished and loving sister. His last gift.

The movie works because we are them. We are lost. We are giving. If we were happy, we would not care about being lost, or feel the need to give. But the breaks within us demand Grace. Never saying “God” except in the family’s Native American rituals at the point of the man’s death, the realities of life and God are simply there, unsaid. As I feel them, every day. There is no sense to it. We are loved. There is no sense to it, especially in a Year, or in this case, Two Years of Lent. There is no sense in leaving, saving, dying, living.

But there is Grace:

Her Grace is all she has —
And that, so least displays —
One Art to recognize, must be,
Another Art, to praise.