Editor’s Note: Hillhurst United Church in Calgary has launched a Reel Theology sermon series reflecting on five of the Academy Award Best Picture-nominated movies (plus the movie Wild) and their connections with culture and spirituality. To read a story on the commitment to and hopes for the series, click here. New Scoop is partnering with Hillhurst to publish a six-blog series summarizing the key elements explored in each sermon. This is the third blog in the series.

The movie Wild is one of those archetypal stories of quest — of seeking, being lost, wandering, finding, transformation. It is the story of who we are and how we navigate the twists and turns of our own lives — the baggage we carry, the need to confront and let go, the discomfort, the joy, the pain, the triumph and the hope of new life. It is all of these things. For me, it’s Lent, all rolled up into a two-hour movie.

Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir that inspired the movie, gives us lots to ponder and to consider. Here are my top four takeaways:

1. Walking is hard work — it’s the journey that’s important.
Each person on the trail has a different experience; it’s a set path, but not a set  experience. There’s a Latin term, Solviture ambulando, which means “it is solved by walking.” Augustine, a Christian theologian in the early church wrote, “What is ‘it’? What is solved by walking? If you want to find out, then you will have to do your own walking.” And, so we walk. And the journey may even change us.

2. Pay Attention — feel what you need to feel.
We all live with distractions — cell phones and lists of things to do, meetings and school pick-ups. But, the invitation is to pay attention. What do we pay attention to? Is it what we need to pay attention to?  Do we see the needs of our communities? Our own needs? Are we too distracted? What are we missing?

3. Let it go — we are probably carrying stuff we can leave behind.
What do we need to let go, to drop off, to burn or bury? What weighs us down? What is the weight we cannot bear?

4. We are not alone — even when we’re alone.
Who walks with us on our journey? Who encourages us, challenges us, walks with us? For me, the assurance is that God is with us — no matter what. In Paul’s Letter to the Romans, he addresses this quite eloquently. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

What themes and questions did Wild raise for you?

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