Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Weather Man

"For I know well the plans I have for you, says the Lord: plans for welfare, not for woe; plans for a future filled with hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Chicago winters are brutal. I know them well.

Since I was a kid growing up just south of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana, I know that the chills of the winter season here can make or break you. The Weather Man chronicles the story of David Spritz (Nicholas Cage), the fictional equivilent of Tom Skilling, as the primary weather forcaster for WGN-TV in Chicago.

However, contrary to the title of the film, the movie has very little to do with Spritz's meteorological career. The Weather Man is actually about carving out an identity.

We all have struggles with naming our identity, because that too closely reminds us of "labels." We don't like labels because they limit us. It's why nicknames give us so much trouble - because we are reduced to one adjective, one descriptive element of who we are. This is the struggle that we see David Spritz experience in this movie.

Are we more than our job? Spritz wants to believe so, because being just the weather man of Chicago denies all the other things that makes David the person he was created to be. Being the weather man doesn't say what kind of husband, father, son, friend, or even what kind of weather forcaster that David feels he is beneath the television personality.

Of course we are more than our job, God tells us. In Jeremiah, God tells the prophet, "For I know well the plans I have for you; plans for welfare, not for woe; plans for a future filled with hope." (Jer. 29:11).

God is telling us that our identity is more than a label. In fact, identity may have very little with us, but very much with God. He created us with spiritual gifts to make an impact on the world, and our life's pursuit is to a) find and name those gifts, and b) figure out how to use those gifts to better the world around us. That is the journey of The Weather Man.

Once Spritz identifies those gifts, symbolized very clearly by his archery abilities he never knew he ever had, he is given a peace of mind that doesn't mind whatever label or title the world wants to give him. It's not an easy journey, the movie reminds us, filled with ups and downs and countless uncertainties. But it's the journey we are called to take on in this life.

In this film, the weather itself is a symbol of the inner battle we have in understanding our gifts and their place in our world. The weather is just plain "blah," like a Chicago winter. Weather like this makes us want to give up, to stay indoors and avoid the world. That is the challenge that life gives us in our search for our gifts. More often than not, our biggest obstacle in life isn't a major storm - rather, it's the cold, damp, dark winter of indifference, routine, and inaction.

Only when we can overcome these winters can we achieve the peace we seek.

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