Stock image (Unsplash.com)

Stock image (Unsplash.com)

How ‘Harold and Maude’ helped me survive Las Vegas

I recently watched the movie “Harold and Maude,” a somewhat dark and quirky love story about an older woman and much younger man. It’s one of my favorites. There’s loads of meaningful dialogue, plus it features a phenomenal soundtrack by Cat Stevens. In one of my favorite scenes Harold says to Maude, “you sure have a way with people,” and she responds, “Well, they’re my species!”

First released in 1971, it was already an old movie the first time I saw it in the 1980s. But it had a pretty big impact on my high school self. That “species” line stuck out more than the others (and the movie is full of good lines). It may sound silly, but I’d never thought of myself as being part of a “species.” Other animals formed species; animals that do their business outdoors, hibernate, lay eggs or eat their young. Animals with a crazy long laundry list of things they have in common. But human beings? Never crossed my mind.

It was a rude awakening. If I had to be part of a species, did it have to be humans? Human beings have such capacity for love and compassion, but so often treat each other horribly. We can be dreadful creatures. Even so it made me wonder what “way” do I have with people? If I’m resigned to be part of this group, how do I do so gracefully?

This is where my faith stepped in to play. Even before Maude helped me recognize myself as part of an actual species, I recognized myself and others as children of God. The only way I was going to thrive in relationships (and sometimes merely survive) with other human beings was to remember we are all unconditionally loved. Perhaps not by me (after all I am part of a very flawed species), but by a patient and loving God.

This “we are all God’s children” understanding goes a long way when it comes to softening my heart toward others. One time I even very intentionally put it to the test. A friend and I were visiting Las Vegas. Las Vegas is full of humans; obnoxious, pushy humans. We commiserated about The Strip crowded with people constantly trying to sell us something. We debated on ways to get from point A to B without enduring the swarm. To save my sanity, the next time we ventured out I tried something that worked with surprisingly lovely results. I remembered with every encounter that each person was a child of God. Remarkably, I was able to smile as I said “no, thank you” to these most obnoxious members of my own species. It didn’t make me want to visit a time share condo, or buy a T-shirt, or go the girlie revue. But it did make the walk more relaxing and much less threatening.

Let’s face it. We aren’t always lovable; that’s just one of the many things we human beings have in common. It’s not easy to walk alongside some folks, and others we just don’t want to claim as human. Nevertheless, like Maude I decided to claim humans as my species. I’m not suggesting we emulate all of her behaviors (she steals stuff), but she did do all things in her life out of love. That’s something to emulate. Let’s allow God’s love to soften our hearts and help us recognize that as a species, as God’s children, we have a lot of potential. Softened by God’s love, it’s much easier to find our way.


• Becky Corson is a member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.


More in Neighbors

Rebecca Carrillo (Courtesy Photo)
Juneau woman sworn in as Philippine Honorary Consul for Alaska

The appointment was approved by the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

tease
Living & Growing: Imagine having a face-to-face with Jesus

I believe it would be a call to love and trust God and each another.

Web tease
Recognitions for Oct. 11, 2020.

Students from Juneau earn acolades.

"The High Holidays arrive and after some critical self-assessment and necessary teshuva, you erase the blackboard, excited to continue on with a new year and a clean slate. Now imagine that a year passes and you take out that blackboard once again, anticipating that you will have a nice, clean board to write your regrets, but the board isn’t clean."
Living & Growing: Let our regrets lead us to action

The High Holy Days ask us to channel our regrets into meaningful action.

"But while I may find temporary solace in the arms of another carbohydrate," writes Geoff Kirsch. :I’ll always return to my first love. Indeed, my three favorite foods are French fries, mashed potatoes and a kosher deli item known as a “knish,” which is essentially a mashed potato stuffed inside a crust that tastes like French fries."
Slack Tide: Why I dig growing my own

“Potatoes are a gateway starch, and take it from me, I’ve done them all…”

Thx
Thank you letter for Oct. 4, 2020

Thank you, merci, danke, gracias, gunalchéesh.

EcoChaplain Roger Wharton is an Episcopal priest from Juneau who returns when possible for spiritual inspiration and a taste of wilderness. (Courtesy Photo / Roger Wharton)
Living & Growing: God satisfies the needs of every living creature

As usual, I write to you about the biblical and Christian nature wisdom tradition.

Web tease
Recognition for Oct. 4, 2020

Juneau student named to dean’s list

Living & Growing: It’s time for a new season
Living & Growing: It’s time for a new season

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven

Gimme a Smile: Quarantine TV
Gimme a Smile: Quarantine TV

I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately. I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

Columnist Geoff Kirsch says ramen is the superior hyper-preserved food stuff when compared to Twinkies. “Also, it’ll make the post-apocalypse seem like you’re back in college, especially if you’re listening sitting under a black light and listening to “’Dark Side of the Moon,’” he writes. (Tom & Nicole Moore / Paxaby)
Slack Tide: Doomsday cramming

I can clearly see I’m not doomsday prepped at all. In fact, I’m doomsday screwed.

Thank you letter for Sept. 20, 2020
Thank you letter for Sept. 20, 2020

Thank you, merci, danke, gracias, gunalchéesh.