Film & I have fit together like a hand & glove since I discovered the joys of Leslie Howard, Ronald Colman & Warren William as a young child. I woke up in the wee small hours of this morning, thinking about movies that I love that celebrate the heart, bones & community of FAMILY.
The Hundred-Foot Journey immediately came to mind, disturbing my rest as the joys of that film robbed me of sleep & filled me with fresh appreciation of its message of families – ones of flesh & blood, ones of kindred spirits, even ones of the work place, all of which are celebrated in this cinematic delight.
The film is a hymn from my heart. It starts with an unimaginable family tragedy, sets surviving members on a journey into uncharted waters, has characters making leaps of faith that seem wildly irrational & are because they are heart-rooted, intertwines talent & opportunity with bold action, elevates the improbable to the pursued to the fully realized.
It is, as my own experience has played out, LIFE as it unreels out when rooted (love that word) nurtured celebrated within by through the community of family & our family of communities.
It was an extraordinary night for me, with little sleep but a cavalcade of thoughts & images about first community & then family, then the two mixing matching interwining.
We can’t fake family, can’t manufacture it. Family is what it is, whatever that is – of shared genetics, of shared interests, of shared work, of shared kinship of spirit.
Often, family shows up, unannounced yet as strongly linked as generations-long relatives. Smiling, remembering how “Mom” Zeigler, mother of one of my dearest friends, a GUY, found me very suspect because her son was thiscloseto a gal who was not an in-law, who had no claim on his friendship through marriage. Hearing about the relationship from far-off Iowa, she was leery of my intentions. When she & “Dad” Zeigler finally came East to see just where their son & his wife had settled down, finally met me, she took one look, burst into a huge smile, wrapped me in one of the best hugs I’ve ever received, and proclaimed, “My goodness, you look more like my daughter than my daughter does.” We’ve been close in heart, if not in distance. ever since – family that existed & only newly discovered.
Just as we are called to honor our parents – to see them as fully human, ergo fully flawed – we are called to see our birth family in the same way. Some families, like the only apparently fish-out-of-water Kadams, are headed by strong parents, living & dead, tried by fire, thrown into situations requiring every smidgen of resiliency, tenacity & (literally) the seasonings of love. Some are semi-dysfunctional, like the widowed Madame Mallory, who pours her love into gastronomy instead of people BUT ends up as tenderized as the meat in the boeuf bourguignon Hassan serves his father. Others are open for what comes, providing support & encouragement as needed – like Marguerite.
It’s my experience that we start with the family we get; learn to identify & appreciate its basic ingredients, how to make them work together, what to add reduce eliminate; then bring in new features, new elements to achieve a more fully-rounded & realized recipe for personal family community happiness.
There is a wonderful, small moment in the film when Madame Mallory questions Hassan adding new seasonings to a classic sauce – she clearly loves the new flavor, yet questions going against tradition.
That is what all of us are called to do with our birth families – in order to let them become their best version, each member has to tweak it according to our tastes, hopefully producing an end result that all can at least appreciate & savor.
Whatever our “family of origin” situation, if we can respect its core ingredients, hold in our hearts that no one is setting out to sabotage us or it, accept that we’re each doing the best we can in any given moment given that moment’s realities for us, we can end up with something that might not be completely to our tastes yet fully satisfies.