Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Big Picture: Casablanca And What Really Matters In Every Age

We drank Mexican hot chocolate and watched the movie everyone should see before they die, Casablanca.  It was the first time our friends had seen that particular classic.  (It feels like a privilege when you share a great work of art with someone who's experiencing it for the first time).

If you've never seen Casablanca, in the words of Dr. Seuss, "The time has come, the time is now..." Besides being a true gem of American culture, Casablanca sits on your ribs with a message for our time. It stirs up the best in us, a best we've almost forgotten in our ridiculously fast paced and self absorbed world.

The picture takes place in Vichy controlled unoccupied France in the Moroccan city that titles the film.  The long and short of it is that the very destiny of the world is hanging in the balance as the Nazi's march all over Europe, and the personal lives of the 3 main characters are intertwined with the cosmic realities of their times.

Humphrey Bogart plays Rick Blaine, an ex patriot American with a mysterious past who has migrated to Casablanca for a variety of reasons.  Ingrid Bergman is the enchantingly beautiful Ilsa, married to the great leader of the French resistance, Victor Lazlo, who has escaped a concentration camp and now poses a huge psychological threat to the Third Reich.

There are too many wonderful scenes in this movie to recount here, and this isn't a review of the film anyway, but suffice it to say the conflict revolves around the lives and loves of these three characters, all of whom must choose between their own strong and dear desires and the unmistakable importance of the big picture.

So here I am, more than 70 years after the making of Casablanca, crying into my Ibarra chocolate while the French nationals overpower the national anthem of the German soldiers as that rag tag collection of refugees sing La Marseillaise in Rick's Cafe Americain.  And I feel that thing rise up in me again as it so often does:

There's more to your life than your little desires for comfort and quiet and everything just to go along easy.  There's a cosmic picture, and we're part of it whether we want to be or not.  There's a battle out there for the hearts and minds and souls of men and women, and our little part in the war matters. But we must be willing to lay down our own agendas and take up something bigger than ourselves.

Humphrey Bogart put it this way:

"Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."

Jesus put it this way:

"Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."

Tomorrow you will most likely start your day like any other Monday.  You'll get up and take care of your children and clean up the same toy 24 times.  You'll go to your job and manage a thousand frustrations and get your coffee and put one foot in front of another.   Maybe you'll fight a debilitating disease, work through a relational problem, make dinner, wash the dishes, listen to the news.  But while you do all these things, the big and the small, what a difference it will make if your motive is always the other guy.  If you lay down your own life in some small way.  Like performing a thankless kindness, or refraining from a hurtful word, or tackling something difficult with humility and perseverance.

What if we worked and washed and struggled tomorrow with the mindset that our struggles can be redemptive.  That we can use our small lives as an offering in the great cosmic picture...the fight against evil in ourselves first, and then in our world.  And to take the greatest weapon the world has ever known...love...and use it sacrificially and generously.

Seems the Great One can use anything he pleases to remind us of what really matters.

That the fundamental things apply, as time goes by.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,



  1. Our Pastor's message this morning .... We are here to make a difference in our world and every small deed, done for our Lord, is worship.

  2. Indeed Terri, it's a marvel when we let go of our little selves and grab hold of the big picture. Love you friend! Blessings to your family, especially those little twin boys...