2 May 2011
The power of touch to kindle a sense of the spiritual was palpable in the film Wit which a group of people gathered to watch at Pa Maria in Hobson St one Saturday morning last month.
The exercise was to deepen our understanding of ourselves as spiritual beings coming to know the Ignatian spiritual exercises through our reactions to the film.
Wit tells of a university professor with cancer whose decline through aggressive treatment to the point of death forced her out of the intellectual realm to succumb to her need for relationship.
British actor Emma Thompson plays John Donne scholar Vivian Bearing who, through reflection on the 17th century poem ‘Death be not Proud’, realises that death is not the end, but a pause between life and life everlasting.
The film’s spiritual nature is revealed in the relationship between nurse and patient as the nurse’s humanity imbues her caring.
It is she who discusses with Vivian what to do when her heart stops beating; perhaps anticipation of the loss of the patient and end to the experiment with radical therapy is beyond the physician in charge.
At the climax Vivian’s former teacher cradles the dying one – two women who have dazzled in their intellectual appreciation of the poet’s wit, reaching in suffering beyond words to the deepest humanity.
Presenter, Fr Brian Cummings, suggested that films such as Wit can help us develop a deep and self-aware spirituality. To do this we must ask ourselves how the film affected us and, most importantly, why?
The next step was to take this reflection to prayer. What scripture comes to mind? Where are the links between this piece of scripture and the film?
‘The Literacy of Movies: understanding how movies can not only entertain us but also help us to live healthier lives’ was one of three sessions at Pa Maria (formerly Emmaus) on different ways to develop a more profound spirituality using the tools around us.