To The Wonder: A Beautiful Meditation On Life, Love, And The Wonder Of Existence?


Yesterday, I found myself watching Terence Malik‘s latest film: To The Wonder.  Terence Malik is not a conventional director, he is a philosopher in the disguise of a film director.  To The Wonder is not a film, it shows up for me as philosophical meditation on life, on love, on God, and on existence itself.  It just so happens that this meditation is communicated through film.

If you find that that which I speak finds a listening in you then I recommend that you make the time  to ‘read’ To The Wonder. And as for any philosophical reading it is necessary to do so when one either creates for finds oneself in the right mood and with the right listening – a listening that allows the speaking to show up as meaningful.

What more is there to say on To The Wonder?  Allow me to share with you snippets of the sayings (on To The Wonder) that speak to me and shed some light.

Every one of us, no matter how damaged or abnormal or shut down, we’re all looking for love. Every person needs love in this world, but our views on what love is vary enormously. Which is the joy and the problem.”

Olga Kurylenko (one of the main characters in the film)

“Why must a film explain everything? Why must every motivation be spelled out? Aren’t many films fundamentally the same film, with only the specifics changed? Aren’t many of them telling the same story? Seeking perfection, we see what our dreams and hopes might look like. We realize they come as a gift through no power of our own, and if we lose them, isn’t that almost worse than never having had them in the first place?”

Roger Ebert (film critic, deceased)

“On a deeper level, the film is Malick’s meditation on the Christian vision of loveand the obstacles that we perversely place in the way of satisfying our irrepressible longing for it. Anyone who’s fallen in love is familiar with the feeling: The world appears transfigured. In the first words of the film, Marina describes it as being “newborn,” called “out of the shadows……..

Ultimately, for Malick, the experience of falling in love grants us a glimpse of the divine — of a “Love that loves us”…… But love is not only rapture. In Malick’s Christian view, it also calls on us to sacrifice, to give ourselves over fully to the one we love…… Father Quintana says it is: “Love is not only a feeling. Love is a duty. You shall love… You feel your love has died? It is perhaps waiting to be transformed into something higher.” 

Father Quintana achieves a spiritual epiphany during a sequence toward the end of the movie that is unlike any I have ever encountered in film……As the priest comforts a succession of suffering people — the old, the anguished, the crippled, the sick, and the dying — he recites a devotion of St. Patrick: “Christ be with me. Christ before me. Christ behind me. Christ in me. Christ beneath me. Christ above me. Christ on my right. Christ on my left. Christ in the heart.”

Humanity was made for God. And he is present all around us — in the transfiguring, wondrous joy of romantic love, in self-giving sacrifice, in our suffering and the suffering of others, in the charity we offer to those in pain, in the resplendent beauty of the natural world — if only we open our eyes to see him. That, it seems, is Terrence Malick’s scandalous message.”

Damon Linker (senior correspondent at

On loss and being with loss

Loss finds us all

There is no escaping loss, given time it finds us – each and every one of us.  Some lose their favourite toys. Some lose pets. Some lose hopes and dreams. Some lose lovers.  Some lose siblings. Some lose parents. Some lose friends. Some lose jobs. Some lose homes. Some lose all of their wealth. Some lose their reputation and status. Some lose their limbs. And then there are those of us who lose their ‘world’.

Recently, pregnant sister-in-law lost her baby.  A miscarriage after three months. Complete surprise. Covered in blood. Dream shattered.  Pain. Tears.  Brother’s delight turns to sorrow.  How to be with his sorrow and be there for his wife?  It is hard – never faced this loss before.

How to be with this loss when it shows up?

When loss shows up in our house of being it is easier to bear if our family and friends are there for us: there by our sides, providing a listening for our sorrow, and sharing our grief. Thankfully, family and friends showed up for sister-in-law.

When loss shows up in our house of being you/I are confronted with choice.  What choice?  The choice about story: the story you/I make about the loss.  This is a choice that matters.  The story that you/I make determines our being: how you/I show up in the world.

Sister-in-law chooses a story that sets her free

Sister-in-law made a wise choice.  She chose a story that allows her to make sense of her loss, be with her loss, and be free of her loss.  Put differently, she choose a story that leaves her being powerful in life and not showing up as a ‘victim’.  What story did she make?  The story goes like this.

a) The human body, my body, is wise.  If it chose to ‘miscarry’ then this was the right course of action for the baby and for me.  Most likely there was something wrong with the baby and its development.  And if the baby had been born then there would have been suffering for the baby. And for me. And her father.

b) I am blessed in that I already have a young daughter.  She is healthy. She is beautiful. She is growing up nicely.  We have a great relationship.

c) If I can make one baby successfully then I can make another.  So I look into the future and I live into the possibility that there will be another healthy baby – sooner or later.  When the time is right the baby will show up.  Now let’s be with life just as it is and just as it is not.  Let me count my blessings.

I find myself inspired by the wisdom of sister-in-law.  I find myself inspired by the wisdom of brother who has adopted the same story. And this story can be a source of inspiration to me when I am faced with loss.