"For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in dying that we born to eternal life."
- St. Francis of Assisi
With a film with a title like Just Like Heaven, there is bound to be a lot of gospel messages imbedded into the reels.
Here is the story of two individuals: Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon), a busy, perky doctor who lives life at the office and hardly anywhere else; and David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo), a loney, depressed widower who now lives life like his last name: cloistered, removed, and interior. While one may be filled with energy and the other is devoid of any, they are connected by the fact that they both are dead to the world.
We are led to believe that Elizabeth dies in a car crash, and her "ghost" comes to haunt David, who now resides in Elizabeth's old apartment. I guess this is how two seemingly dead people can ever find each other: as specter and recluse (The Ghost & Mr. Chicken, perhaps?).
When they do find each other, both David and Elizabeth begin to live again. Since it is her "subconscience" that visits the apartment, David must help her remember who she was in life. And in so doing, Elizabeth helps David remember who he really is inside before his wife passed away and he cloistered himself up on a couch.
As I posted in a previous blog, we are made for each other. God created us to live for each other. And here is the story of two people who are truly made for each other - they need each other to bring life back into their lives. Remembering Christ's declaration, "I have come so that you might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10), we can see that real life, abundant life, was missing from the existances of David and Elizabeth until they really lived.
This movie promotes what I would call "pro-abundant-life." Just because we breathe doesn't always mean we're alive. David and Elizabeth are non unlike many young adults out there - either overworked or sadly depressed - who are not truly "alive."
When David and Elizabeth work together on reviving an accident victim in a restaurant, they both received a sense of purpose and meaning to their lives. Through their actions, they were able to make a positive, life-giving difference. They got a glimpse of the abundant life. The challenge to us in this film is to ask ourselves what are we living for, what our purpose and meaning is in this world, and how we can make a difference beyond working ourselves silly or making a permanent indent on our couch.
To fully appreciate abundant life, David and Elizabeth had to die to their mundane lives, just as St. Francis prayed centuries earlier: "it is in dying that we are born to eternal life." If we find ourselves in a dead life, let us pray for our own resurrection into abundance, too.