For 48 years, Mrs. tVM and I have watched the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” every Christmas season. When we first viewed it in 1974, the film was a mere 27 years old. That would be like watching “Braveheart” today; it doesn’t seem that long ago. As we watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” last night, it occurred to me that the film is now 75 years old, slightly older than I am. Age gives things – and people – a different perspective.
I believe in some way, each of us has been where George Bailey is: at the end of our rope. Each of us has faced dire challenges that have threatened to overwhelm us. Still, we survive. Prayer is unquestionably the key. You don’t have to be a religious or spiritual person to pray. George Bailey shows us how,
“Dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man but if you’re up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope.”
His prayer is answered in the unlikely guise of his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody. No wonder we named our dog Clarence when he came to live with us as a puppy five years ago. We believe in angels and Clarence is one of them.
Last night for the first time in 48 viewings, I noticed a plaque that hangs beneath the picture of George’s father Peter at the Bailey Bros. Building and Loan Association. It reads,
“All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.”
In other words, things of material value have little worth as we approach the end of our lives. Things
of true worth and greatest value are not measured in material things and by dollars and cents. Things of greatest value are priceless, things like friendship and family.
I approached the end of my rope on a few occasions in 2022. With absolute certainty, prayer, family, and friends provided the means to garner the strength to carry on. Prayer, family, and friends raised my spirits and returned me to solid ground.
The midday examen in The Vitruvian Man’s Book of Hours includes this reflection from the Spiritual Letters of Francis de Sales,
“Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same understanding Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.”
It is indeed a wonderful life.