In Cast Away (2000), the Tom Hanks-carried film that adapts the deserted island storyline to a modern age, something strange happens the moment our lead character (Chuck Noland) finds himself stranded on a shore in the South Pacific. The remarkable musical score, written by Alan Silvestri, is stripped away. For Chuck’s entire time on the island, you won’t hear so much as a piano key struck in the distance. His survival is marked not only by chalk lines cut into a cave wall, but also by intense, emotional silence.
I don’t mean to be a “downer,” but if I’m speaking for myself, the last year has sometimes felt like a Cast Away stretch of days, waiting to see some salvation on the horizon but left with times of silence and fear. Spoiler alert: Chuck’s story does not end on the island, but that’s not to say the movie ends with all the bows neatly tied either. In fact, in the film’s final shot, Chuck stands at an intersection in the flat heartland of the Texas plains. A kind-hearted passerby stops to help, reporting plainly, “You look lost.” Of course, she doesn’t realize the dramatic irony laced into her statement. No one has ever been more lost than Chuck Noland.
After getting directions, Noland walks to the very center of the highway, the Silvestri score following him and building, drowning out any other sound in the shot. Noland may still be lost, but that music is back. So, too, is his smile, as he considers which way to go next. Heavy-handed? Sure. A portrait of what we all feel like from time to time? No doubt.
Here he has possibility again, the promise of togetherness and belonging and life itself awaiting him if he can only decide which way to drive. Community, in my experience, calls to us at crossroads in our life, but there is a more profound sense of community that calls to us from the cross. At the cross, we are asked to take seriously the claims of Jesus; we are commanded to “count others more significant than ourselves” (Phil. 2:3); we are inspired to enter just as we are, confident in the transformative power of a true relationship with the only one strong enough to bear the ultimate cross of isolation and grief.
In all of our imperfections and doubts, in all our brokenness and hurt, we enter into this kind of community not to be led away from uncertain crossroads, which are inevitable, but rather to be led into certain love, made known to us by the cross Jesus carried in our place. I can’t tell you what the next year will look like for any of us societally, medically, or otherwise (I wish I could). But if we are to stand at intersections of indefinite outcomes, we might do well to stand together, to smile when we hear music, to grieve when we are wounded, to praise when we are given comfort, and to worship through it all.
Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting stories of community found at the cross. Stay tuned for these entries, and if you feel so led, please sign up to check out our small groups at City Church. These include our City Groups and Focus Groups as well as our theology-forward discipleship group, the Space City Fellows Program. And, as always, please feel free to reach out to Clint (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you might have.
p.s. – Go look up Alan Silvestri’s “End Title Theme” to Cast Away – beautiful!