I need to tell you something. I’m a hopeless romantic. I think I was REALLY hooked early on when I watched Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren. (Pretty sure I was an infant then, for those of you doing the math.) My obsession with love stories just grew from there. Happy endings are my addiction.
I recently watched a sweet movie: Letters to Juliet. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that this is a love story … or, really, two love stories. The movie follows a young couple (who doesn’t realize they are falling in love at first)—while they are trying to help an older woman (Vanessa Redgrave) find the man (Franco Nero) she fell in love with when she was 15. The one she couldn’t forget.
As I watching the movie, I realized that the two senior actors starred in Camelot—a film that had a huge impact on me when I was a teenager … for reasons beyond being just a classic love story.
In the late 70s, our family of 6 traveled from Ohio to Albuquerque to see my Dad’s brothers, their wives and to meet our cousins. We left at midnight on Christmas and drove several hours to a tiny train station somewhere upstate —where we embarked on a cross-country journey by passenger train.
I don’t remember how long we stayed in New Mexico, but I recall lots of laughing, eating out, shopping and enjoying the company of the wonderful family that I was just getting to know.
True to my introvert personality even then—at 16—I needed a little daily quiet, private time to recharge. I remember disconnecting from the chaos one evening during that trip, by sitting on the floor about 18” from the television being captivated by Camelot. I’d never seen the movie—but discovered, early on, that it had all the ingredients of a perfect love story. And then some. I was so absorbed in the movie, I tuned out everything and everyone else in the room. Completely. I must’ve been that way for well over an hour, when my Uncle Paul knelt down quietly beside me. He pointed to a simple gold ring unusually placed on the upper part of Guinevere’s ring finger. “Isn’t that beautiful?,” he said quietly.
His comment instantly got my attention. I’d just been thinking that very same thing. Such a tiny detail, yet it spoke to her character. It was one of the small, otherwise insignificant things that set her apart from other women. I saw Guinevere as an independent thinker. A free spirit. A rule-breaker. She led with her heart. For me–a 16-year-old girl trying to figure out why I kept failing at fitting into the popular cultural templates of the time—she was unique, all the way down to that tiny gold band.
My uncle sat and watched the movie in silence with me for a few minutes, then got up and returned to the family. I was quietly dumbfounded that he, too, had noticed something as simple as that ring. That he even cared.
Decades later, what I remember most from that day was that encounter with my uncle. I think about that 16-year-old-me, absorbed in my private little world—and how he found a way to connect with that girl through his simple, gentle ways. By paying attention.
It may come as no surprise when I tell you that my Uncle Paul and his beautiful wife, Carrie, have spent their lives doing mission work—impacting those difficult-to-reach souls in countless communities. Not long ago, my uncle was in a terrible car accident, with the other driver at fault. He nearly lost his life. As we prayed for him, Auntie Carrie and their family—they asked that we pray for the other driver and his family. I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people today with that kind of grace.
And that’s the real point of this story: God’s grace—manifested in us. Manifested in a man who met a withdrawn, awkward teenager in her private world of Camelot and gave her affirmation that it’s okay to be different.
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that this is a love story … a thank you to a loving God for placing those people in our lives who genuinely and authentically LIVE His word.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
~2 Corinthians 12:9