There was a movie that came out several years ago called The Straight Story. It’s based on the true story of a man named Alvin Straight who traveled from his home in Iowa to Wisconsin to see his brother. On the surface, that’s not much of a story. But, there were a couple of things that made this story worth telling and worth hearing.
You see, Alvin and his brother hadn’t spoken to each other in several years. They’d fought about something and as a result they refused to be in contact. But, when Alvin received word that his brother, his only sibling, had fallen ill and been in the hospital, Alvin decided he should go to see his brother.
Seems simple enough: except it wasn’t. (No one makes movies about simple things. They don’t sell tickets.) Alvin hadn’t lived an easy life. His time in the service, the anger and fear he brought home from the battlefields, the alcohol that gave him some relief from the pain, and stubborn pride had taken their toll on his body and soul. Due to poor eyesight, Alvin could no longer see well enough to drive. He had bad hips and couldn’t move around very well without a cane to steady him. Despite these things that might have deterred others from making the trip, Alvin figured out a way he could get to his brother.
He built himself a small trailer and hitched it to a riding lawnmower. He bought some coolers to take his food in, put in a couple of chairs and some bedding to sleep on. He also had several large containers of gasoline and all the other essentials he would need for his trip. And, he set off traveling a few miles each day on his old, but fairly reliable John Deere mower.
Because I highly recommend this movie to anyone over the age of 13, I won’t tell you the whole story and how it ends. Watch it. You’ll be very glad you did.
It won’t come as a surprise, I’m sure, to know that this movie has a whole lot of life lessons in it. Frankly, given what we are often offered by movies today, it was a joy to watch a story unfold that offered something positive, hopeful, and incredibly touching.
It’s a story of determination and vulnerability. It’s a story of letting go of pride and embracing forgiveness. It’s a story of sacrifice and love. I mean, how many people do you know who would hitch a riding lawnmower to a homemade trailer and drive it nearly 400 miles because it was the only way they could think of to get to see someone they hadn’t spoken to in years? I’ve only known a couple who would have done something like that and they were pretty amazing folks.
Some of the best stories I’ve heard and some of the finest people I know have stories with a common thread that is found in Alvin’s story. They are stories that have a heart and soul. Because they do, they can speak to the heart and soul of others in ways that will ring true and will touch them to the depths of their being. These folks and their stories may have things about them that will stretch our imagination or test our ability to comprehend. But, when we hear them we will have no doubt that what was shared was honest and real.
We can hear a lot of stories everyday without much effort. Turn on the news or log onto a social media site or sit on a bench in town and listen and watch as people pass by. There are stories to be heard. Our challenge these days is trying to figure out if what we’re hearing is real. Is it true? Is it honest? Is it factual? Does it matter? Who cares? All good questions. But, maybe we’d better ask another question while we’re at it. Where is the heart and soul of this story? Where is the thread that is woven and linked with another to create this tapestry? Is it a tangled web spun to deceive (thank you, Shakespeare)? Or is it intricately and thoughtfully told so that when it ends, we will know that those threads have now become part of our tapestry, our lives, too? And, we will be thankful that is so.
If we can find the stories with heart and soul, then I believe we’ve found something worth hearing. And, they are treasures worth keeping.
I wish you peace….