Walk the Line is one of those movies I can’t go past when channel surfing. Not really a fan of Johnny Cash’s music, I figure it’s because the relationship –really, courtship — between Cash and June Carter was a non-linear, non-traditional love story, so real in its off timing and pain and uncertainty yet powerful in its portrayal of what happens when one heart inexplicably seizes another.
This is not a story for the black-and-white types, for there is far too much gray. I love gray. The best of life is in the gray. It can be tenuous, but something beautiful can happen in the melding of potent hues when they create another shade. Makes me want to crawl into it and bathe.
There is a scene in the movie where June gives John (as she calls him) a book — The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. What an interesting aspect of her, her love of this spiritual tome that she so wanted to share with him. Even though I’d seen the film a number of times, this week I was moved to actually read this book. It’s almost a wonder how it’s eluded me all this time, given my collection of wonderfully enlightening books.
Today as I took a walk to give my knee some exercise I wandered into Symposia, a used bookstore in my community, and found a copy of The Prophet. I love that it was published in 1923, but that my hardcover edition is from 1976 (95th printing). After my walk I devoured all 96 pages and marveled at its messages.
When a ship comes to take back the Prophet to his isle of birth, he addresses the people he is leaving behind in his town, including a woman named Almitra (a “seeress” a.k.a. prophetess). They ask about love, joy and sorrow, work, freedom, pain, pleasure, religion, death, etc. and he answers. A sampling:
Of Love ~
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.
Of Joy and Sorrow ~
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Of Teaching ~
The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.
If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.
Of Friendship ~
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
As the Prophet makes his way to the ship that has come for him, he says among so much else, “I of your longings have built a tower in the sky.” Almitra silently watches the ship vanish.
My goodness, as I read this, how to not think of my dear friend Kevin who left this world on March 2? So poetic. Breathtaking, even.
As I closed the book, I was ever grateful for June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash in their enduring gray existence.