Julia Steiny: The Season’s Message- Love Heals
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
I doubt there is a greater pleasure than having a much-wanted child. To boost the survival of the species, Biology has installed a powerful set of instinctive feelings designed to deliver selfless, adoring care to the next generation. I was blown away, as a new mom, juggling fussy twins no less, by the oceanic love that washed generously over the whole messy business. Ever since, I've felt that having a child is far more like being in love than being in love. That's no small statement since I married for cucu, romantic love and no other reason.
The ancient world often underscored important ideas with a story of a miraculous birth. Dionysus means "twice born," and in his case the second time was from the thigh of Zeus, indicating that divine connection.
New Testament tradition has it that Mary's parents, Anna and Joachim, were outcasts because their community interpreted their barrenness as a sign of divine displeasure. After 40 days of separate prayer and fasting, angels told each of them that they would not only get their wish for a child, but that she would be special. So thrilled, they embraced publicly when they reunited at the Golden Gate for one of the only kisses recorded in the long Biblical tome of domestic and political stories.
Kings and conquerors could build great monuments to underscore their importance. But regular people depended on more accessible and less expensive miracles to emphasize key points they needed to impress on their children. Human love is an impressive miracle and remains so today, however trivialized by the media. As a child and education advocate, I wish the sweetness of human interconnection could command more attention and discussion. Honestly I feel radical and exposed just bringing it up now, even at Christmas.
Because of course, in the paradigmatic homeless scenario, Mary brought forth her first-born son who, tradition has it, was bringing a message not just of love, but of the triumph of love. However much humans and institutions have distorted and abused love itself, the message itself stands strong: Love is the best response to all dilemmas. When looking at adversity through the lens of love, the resolution will go better for all involved. No matter how daunting the challenge.
At a recent wedding, a nervous friend of the bride's read the famous passage from Corinthians. In it Paul writes: "Love never fails." That day I was hearing it for the umpteenth time, and as if for the first. "Love never fails?" Oh, but it can and does, I thought. I struggle these days with an unrequited love in my own family. Families fight. Disconnections and misunderstandings take root, and love can seem nowhere to be found. Of course, that's the point of the passage in Corinthians, that love is work, done intentionally. It's patience in the face of conflict, kindness in the face of slights, forbearance in the face of insults. If we buckle down to the work, in time, love doesn't fail. Once they're past the blush of romance or childbirth, humans often have to love on purpose, mindfully, even when they don't feel like it.
Whenever I'm feeling badly treated, maligned, or, let's face it, merely having had my buttons pushed, loving back is still the best remedy for what ails me. No, it's not easy. But it never fails. It acts as healing ointment for any bruised heart, and leaves the door open to positive possibilities. There's no guarantee that love will bring about anything as miraculous as a full-on resurrection of badly-damaged relationship, but it does ensure some degree of redemption, every single time.
Because no matter what, the message of the season is right: love is miraculously healing. Teach kids love by modeling it.
Related Slideshow: Cast and Crew of American Hustle
One of the most versatile actors in the business, Christian Bale's acting credits include everything from playing the Caped Crusader in three Batman films to a serial killer in American Psycho. Bale's performance in American Hustle has attracted a lot of attention— including a Golden Globe nomination. American Hustle marks the second time Bale has worked with director David O. Russell. Bale earned an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for 2010's The Fighter, which Russell directed.
Despite achieving stardom with his comedic roles in The Hangover series, Bradley Cooper has shown he can be quite the dramatic actor too with roles in Silver Linings Playbook (also directed by David O. Russell) and The Place Beyond the Pines. Cooper’s portrayal of FBI agent Richie DiMaso in American Hustle has earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Cooper earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Lead Actor for Silver Linings Playbook.
One of the most sought-after actresses on screen today, Amy Adams has starred in everything ranging from indie films like The Master to blockbuster superhero flicks like Man of Steel. Adams previously worked with David O. Russell on The Fighter, which earned her an Academy Award nomination. Adams has earned four Oscar nominations overall and is eyeing a fifth for American Hustle—a performance that has already landed her a Gold Globe nod.
Comic book fans will recognize Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye in hugely successful movie The Avengers, but this talented actor is perhaps better known for his work in serious dramas like The Town and The Hurt Locker—both of which earned him Oscar nominations. In addition to American Hustle, Renner can next be seen in the upcoming film Kill the Messenger.
From her humble beginnings on the TBS sitcom The Bill Engvall Show, Jennifer Lawrence is currently one of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood thanks to her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen in the wildly popular Hunger Games series. Aside from blockbusters, Lawrence has starred in independent films like The Burning Plain and Winter’s Bone, which earned her an Oscar nomination. Despite not winning the Oscar for Winter’s Bone, Lawrence nabbed the Best Actress award at the Academy Awards earlier this year for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook.
Robert De Niro
Considered one of the greatest actors of his time, Robert De Niro has won two Academy Awards and been nominated for five others. Most recently, De Niro earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role in Silver Linings Playbook. Back working with David O. Russell for the second time, De Niro has a supporting role in American Hustle playing Victor Tellegio. He can next be seen playing opposite Sylvester Stallone in the boxing movie Grudge Match, which opens on Christmas Day.
Michael Pena first gained notoriety for his breakthrough performance in the Oscar-winning film Crash. Pena has also co-starred in countless films including World Trade Center, Shooter, End of Watch and Gangster Squad. Most recently, Pena lent his voice to the hot animated film Turbo.
David O. Russell
David O. Russell is an Oscar nominated film director and screenwriter whose films include Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, which like American Hustle, was filmed in Massachusetts. Russell's latest film, American Hustle, recently earned seven Golden Globe nominations.
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