The Time Traveler's Wife & Jeremiah & Longfellow
Among pro-lifers the words of the ancient prophet Jeremiah have special meaning: ‘I knew you before I formed you in the womb.”
Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D.
This tells us that our lives have a transcendent meaning, and sets a frame for all of our work on life. Those words rang in my memory after Jack and I recently went to see the hit summer movie, The Time Traveler’s Wife.
And while I certainly don’t endorse all of the movie’s values, I was drawn in by seeing a Hollywood movie where the title character is a wife.
(I should warn you though that my son, John, thought it was ‘the worst movie ever,” not enough explosions and car chases, I guess.)
Still, I thought the movie made a powerful pro-life statement. . . albeit entirely unintentional, I’m sure.
I’ll confess that I have always loved stories about time travel. I know I’m not the only one because it shows up so often as a plot device. Our fascination with breaking the confines of time reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ observation about the nature of man; he argues that there must be such a thing as “justice” because we feel so keenly outraged by “injustice”:
A man feels wet when he falls into water,
because man is not a water animal:
a fish would not feel wet.
-C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
We feel wet in water . . . and we feel uncomfortable with the passage of time (“Look how you’ve grown!”) because we are eternal beings experiencing a temporal life.
I believe that’s why we are drawn to stories about time travel. . . and particularly those about a love that transcends time. Because it speaks to the deeper reality of eternity that we recognize with some part of our souls. “I knew you. . . ”
The Time Traveler’s Wife is billed as a love story, and it is. But in many ways, the love story at the heart of the tale is the bond between the couple and their daughter. The scene that stays with me is one where the wife, Clare, pregnant with their daughter, is taking a bath.
Her husband Henry suddenly returns from time-traveling where he has just been with their daughter, ten years in the future. Clare has suffered several miscarriages, so she worries about carrying the baby to term. . . Having now met their daughter, Henry can reassure her.
‘She’s beautiful, Clare,’ he tells her.
Surprised, Clare looks with wonder toward her very advanced pregnancy and says, “You’ve met her?”
They laugh together with joy, with the knowledge that the very same unborn baby with them that day lives in the future as the vibrant ten-year-old that Henry has just met. They knew their daughter, even before they’d met her in real time.
It’s fanciful. But it also reflects a truth about the unique, timeless, value of each life.
My father used to tell me that before my birth I was “a twinkle in my mother’s eye.”
Similarly, our son James, the youngest of our five children, sometimes asks where he was when he sees the pictures of our family before he was born. We tell him he was an angel in heaven watching and waiting his turn to join the family and increase the fun. The notion reassures him that he has always been a part of our family, unbounded by time and space.
This weekend we’ll be packing up the kids in the Suburban and heading south to North Carolina to visit Jack’s mom.
I imagine many of you will be doing something similar.
As we turn our attention to family and friends this weekend, I wanted to take a minute just to thank you for standing with us and enabling us to defend life together.
First thing Tuesday we’ll be back in the fray as Congress returns and health care reform is at the top of the agenda. The President will be giving a major address on health care on Wednesday and the following week we’ll be meeting with his Domestic Policy Advisor at the White House to talk about the abortion mandate in health care. So we will be ready to run hard again next week and the AUL legal team will have new material for you on Tuesday. We’ll be back quickly to our usual policy focus.
But in the meantime, as we slow down for the Labor Day holiday, it’s worth taking a few minutes together to reflect on why we persevere in this fight. Even Hollywood tells the truth when they want to tell a good story. As Longfellow penned in his Psalm of Life:
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
Life is real. And it’s worth defending.
Thank you for joining me in working to protect and defend life!
Yours For Life,
Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D.
President & CEO