Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Reasonless love

Above is a picture of Maxie, a dog belonging to my wife, Terri. I read an article by Mark Galli entitled "Love Needs No Reason" at and it reminded me of Maxie. The above picture may not do this dog justice—she may be even, um, less pretty than this photo indicates. Frankly the consensus of Terri’s friends and family members is that Maxie is, well, ugly.

One of Terri's friends, Bruce, works at Brunswick Hospital. Some years back he asked Terri if he could have a picture of Maxie. Terri asked why he wanted such a photo and Bruce explained that the hospital were having an ugliest dog contest and he was pretty sure that he could win with a picture of Maxie.

I think it was sometime last year that my father called Terri and expressed his sympathy to her. Terri wanted to know why he was expressing sympathy and he explained that he had seen a news story that the world’s ugliest dog died and so he was sorry to hear that Maxie passed away. (Maxie was and is fine, by the way.)

Let me tell you how Terri came to have Maxie. This dog wasn’t a stray that showed up at the house and hung around. Terri chose this dog on purpose. She even paid good money for it. A few years ago she took a notion that she wanted a lapdog and she went over to the pound. Maxie was a puppy then and she came over and peed on Terri’s foot. So Terri kept her.

Obviously she did not pick Maxie because of her great beauty. She did not pick her because she was nice to her when they met. Yet, even though she had no apparent reason for it, Terri loved and still loves Maxie. That dog sleeps curled up against Terri.

God’s love for us is sort of like that. God doesn’t love you because you are really pretty or smart or for any other fine attribute that you possess. God even loves us and sacrificed himself for us in spite of the fact that we have all peed on his foot as it were. God loves us for no reason at all. God’s love does not need a reason.

And that’s the way it’s supposed to be with our love for others. Our love must be reasonless because God’s love is reasonless.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

'The Blind Side' and 'The Soloist'

I did not get to see The Blind Side in theaters. I know, I know, I missed out. I'll definitely check it out when it is released on DVD.

I did hear the basics of the true story of The Blind Side in an interview with the family at the center of it. In a nutshell, Leigh Ann Touhy and her family take in a homeless young man named Michael Oher. They lovingly raise Oher as part of the family and he becomes a college football All-American and a first round draft pick in the NFL. It is a great, inspirational story.

There was another movie released in 2009 based on a true story of someone attempting to help a homeless person. This one is entitled The Soloist and it did not do as well at the box office nor did it generate the buzz of The Blind Side. A few weeks back I picked up a previously viewed copy of The Soloist for $1 at a video store that was going out of business. I watched it last night and it too is a great story.

The story begins with Steve Lopez, a writer for the L.A. Times, encountering a homeless man named Nathaniel Ayers who was playing a violin with only two strings. It turns out that Ayers was once a student at the famed Juilliard School but he was living on the streets when Lopez found him. From there a friendship develops that takes many twists and turns. It is a relationship through which both men are transformed for the better.

I'm guessing that The Soloist did not generate the hoopla of The Blindside mostly because it does not have a storybook ending. Oh, don't get me wrong. It is a great ending--an uplifting ending. But Ayers does not move from the streets to become a successful musician in an orchestra somewhere. However, he does move to a much better place than he was when Lopez first found him. But then, in a very real sense, Lopez was also moved to a better place than where he was before he met Ayers.

From what I experienced in viewing The Soloist and from what I heard in an interview of the Touhys both of these movies are worth seeing. They both remind those of us who are not poor that genuine, loving friendships with those who are poor can make a difference for the better in our world. And that's a great lesson.