I was looking forward to the next segment with the disabled children in Peru. My daughter has Down syndrome, so the joy in these children's faces is part of my daily experience of motherhood. I was not disappointed. The children, most of whom lived in deplorable conditions of poverty and neglect, were absolutely bursting with enthusiasm for life. They ate up the attendtion of the men and their friends, and within a simple therapy trip to the hospital, it was obvious that another powerful life lesson was learned. Physical perfection is NOT the meaning of life. Loving one another is.
Then, off to Africa to visit the desperately ill within the dreaded leper colony, and the modern plague, HIV. Again, hope in the midst of illness, societal rejection, and grinding poverty. Death is looming for many of these people, and an uncertain future. But the sense of hope and loving community somehow upholds them. What is their secret? The filmmakers interject black and white shots of modern day philosphers offering their ideas on the meaning of life, including Fr. John Neuhaus. The sequence of the Eucharistic procession through the African rain forest, and the words of the muslim cleric divulged part of the secret to the happiness of these ill and dying financially destitute people. Their eyes were able to see beyond this world to the one beyond.To someone who loves them. The meaning of life is having an eternal purpose.By far the most powerful part of the film is the surprise ending where one of the young men puts his newfound knowlege into practice in an unexpected way. An unforgettable way.
At the disccussion following the standing ovation, Fr. Benedict Groeschel praised the film for it's role in the New Springtime of Evangelization. I was perpelxed, the religious content of the film was far less than their previous work. He went on to explain that those in this culture need to be met where they are in order to be brought to the Truth.
And it's a LONG journey, this discovering of the meaning of the Human Experience.