In the beautiful sermon based on the Book of Job that Terrence Malick places at the heart of his brilliant film “The Tree of Life” the preacher wrestles with the reality of the tragic brokenness we all experience in life and in the end affirms the presence and power of love.
How can we be holy when daily we do things offensive to God?
The answer is: a mother’s love for her child is stronger than her distaste for the mud on the child’s head. Even so, God’s love for us is far stronger than our uncleanness. Though sinners, we never lose our childhood. Sins don’t separate Him from those who believe.
We’re turned, each one of us, from the right path to his own way, but this does not separate us from the love of God. The soul can’t find the right way, nor like a sheep come to the shepherd. But, be assured, the shepherd will go after it. Be sure of that.
And so we say with Synesisus: “You are Father, Mother too… Root of the universe. Center of all things. Eye of yourself and shaper of the soul. You all nature sings aloud.
“You shall restore us to that fountain from which we were poured forth. Wanderers all.”
Yet there is one who seeks us. Be sure of that.
The waters wear away the stones. The mountains fall and vanish away, and even the rock is removed from its place. It seems we cannot plead with him. He changes our countenance from joy to woe, and the place where we lived knows us no more.
Or thus it seems.
We seek him in the changing shows of time.
The “him” we seek “in the changing shows of time” is “love.” This love is like “a mother’s love for her child.” It “is stronger than her distaste for the mud on the child’s head,” a steady strong reality that breathes at the centre of all life. The deepest desire of the human heart is to find and know this love that “lasts”.