Lessons from “Tuesdays with Morrie”
By: Rev. Lawrence Lee, United Church of Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
I lead a double life. I’m a pastor and a thespian. When I’m not in the pulpit I’m often found on various stages around the area. Lately it’s been my privilege to direct a production of “Tuesdays with Morrie” at the Duluth Play Ground, starring Kevin Walsh and Luke Moravec.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the memoir upon which the play is based, Morrie Schwarz was a sociology professor at Brandeis. When he’s diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) he is reacquainted with a former student, Mitch Albom, who starts visiting him every Tuesday.
While on the surface this play sounds like a real downer, it is probably one of the most positive and life affirming shows I’ve ever worked on. It’s also one of the most spiritual.
Morrie declares that he wishes he’d been more aware of death every day of his life. “Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” In facing his own mortality, things start to gain perspective. The things that seemed so important once start to fade. And the simple things that seemed so ordinary start to gain importance.
At the heart of Morrie’s journey is realizing that the grudges we hold hurt us more than anyone else. We need to let them go. “If there is anyone you care about that you are fighting with, feuding with, let it go... If you are one hundred percent right and they’re one hundred percent wrong, you say you’re wrong if that will end it. Because when you get to where I am... and you will... you won’t care who was right and who was wrong. Forgive everyone everything.”
This is challenging stuff to me. I like being right. I like the feeling of being right and knowing that I’m right. But I also know that self-righteousness is a very lonely place. It’s not incidental that forgiveness is at the heart of Christ’s message. Because God forgives us, we are called to forgive others and ourselves.
“Tuesdays with Morrie” is more about Mitch’s journey than Morrie’s. Mitch realizes he isn’t living half as well as this 78 year old dying man, and that’s confounding for a man who seems to have the world beating a path to his door. But, as Jesus asks, “what good is it if a man gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?”
A new year feels like a clean slate. A chance to start over. I hope 2013 will be a year of grace and perspective for you and for me.
The Rev. Lawrence Lee has been the pastor of the United Church of Two Harbors since 2003 and is currently directing “Tuesdays with Morrie” at the Play Ground, January 17-19, 24-26.