Film Friday: The Mule

Earl’s much loved, once flourishing flower business crashes and dies. Then he meets a young guy who, on finding out Earl has never had any traffic tickets or violations, invites him to get in touch for a transport job. So Earl does, and he finds the work rather lucrative, so lucrative that he gets curious about just what he is transporting…

Earl finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the murky world of drug distribution as his load increases and the pay does too. He is able to resurrect his local social club with the funds and buy back the farm property he lost. But the net is closing in. And things don’t look good.

There is another side to this movie. Another story. Earl is estranged from most of his family. He has spent so much time loving his work that he has never been there for those closest to him. At one point his wife describes him as the love of her life and the pain of her life. Earl knows he’s let them all down, and when he happens to sit down in a restaurant, next to the very cop who is on the hunt to try and identify and capture him, he admits that he has failed his family. And advises the cop to live differently. Years ago I came across the saying, God made things to be used and people to be loved, but we can sometimes get it the wrong way round. Earl has loved his flower growing business. He loves the work he has put in and the results he got. But then flowers don’t answer back or ask you to change.

We often know where we are with things. But people can be different. And difficult. Misunderstandings, grievances and arguments can separate us. Building a wall of miscommunication and pain. I recently spoke at an evening on anger and discovered how many folks live with unresolved situations, often because the other person in the falling-out does not want to find peace and common ground. The writers of the Bible are honest about this, often laying bare their raw feelings. After David’s wife Michal had been abandoned by him for years, she harboured understandable bitterness towards him and refused to celebrate when David returned to his home city triumphant. You can read about that difficult day in 2 Samuel 6. Earl recognised and admitted his folly as he neared the end of things, and did his fumbling best to reach out to his family once more. The road was hard, but it was worthwhile. Something good came out of that journey. In his book Unapologetic Francis Spufford comments that it wasn’t a bad or good day for Jesus if he got less or more followers, what mattered to him was giving his full attention to the person in front of him. I really like that. Just always values us, always treats us as vital, precious human beings. Not easy to follow his trend, to walk in his steps, we just take one day at a time and give it a go.

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