Lent: Day Nine

One thing that definitely happens, at least to me, when you get sick is that you get more reflective. Not deeply reflective, since even with a slight fever (fortunately mine is only 100.1 tonight) it is hard maintain any depth of thought. All your body’s resources are directed at fighting the infection and since your brain is normally the largest consumer of energy in the body (not counting when you are engaged in intense exercise, then it’s your muscles), it is only natural to bank back the fires in your head and save the reserves for the primary battle. But there is still enough energy for light reflection and the cocooning effect of an illness fosters inward thought.

My family’s strength is not in nursing/nurturing, so on the rare times I get sick everyone gives me plenty of space. Oh they get me what I need and make sure I am OK, but they are more like visiting doctors than attending nurses. Add that to fact that my wife is on a retreat and my daughter is at her care group’s dinner and I am now totally alone. My fever has risen from its mid 99 fluctuations up to just over 100, my body aches all over and I have that washed-out feeling. So, I don’t feel like doing anything that requires effort.

I have decided to watch a few movies. One I would like to share with you was an interesting Japanese movie, Twilight Samurai, which was nominated for Best Foreign Film in 2003. Set in the mid 1800’s, the story takes place during an intense period of turmoil in Japan when their culture was shifting from the culture of the Shogun, Samurai, and Clan, to the Emperor, modern weaponry, and an abandonment of the samurai ways. It is the same period that Tom Cruz’s Last of the Samurai was set in.

I really liked the movie, which is narrated from the viewpoint of the main character’s five year old daughter, wholly as a flashback. She is now middle aged and visiting her father’s grave. The movie is primarily a character study of Seibei Iguchi, the father. His fellow workers call him Twilight, since he is not interested in joining them for drinks after work. Seibei prefers to go home and take care of his daughters and his aged mother who is suffering from what appears to be mid-stage Alzheimer’s. While functional, she doesn’t recognize her son, constantly asking him to what house he belongs.

Seibei loves his two daughters and enjoys the time he spends with them in the evening making bird and insect cages, which they sell to a merchant for piecework prices to supplement their income. He is a low level retainer who is at the bottom of the wage scale. We would call him the working poor, but even at that position he is above the mass of peasant farmers who work the lands of the clan. He even has a male servant, who is not very intelligent but the man appears diligent and loyal.

The movie is slow compared to most, but I enjoyed its quiet moments. The times of action are few but intense and well done. It is mostly a story of an honorable man, of great ability, who preferred a quiet family life to advancement and becoming a noted samurai warrior. His choices are ones not common in our time of always wanting more and most of his choices would be seen as a waste by many today. In some ways he is like a monk with a family. Seibei at the end of the story reminds me of the man Solomon talks about in Ecclesiastes 9:15, who though poor, saves the city but then is forgotten, for Seibei saves his clan from dishonor and destruction.

If you are in the mood for a quiet character study, punctuated with just enough action to be realistic to the time and story, then I highly recommend this movie about a Twilight Samurai, who is that, yet more.

Grace and peace and God’s mercy and restoration be yours today and everyday.