Warning: contains spoilers
If you’ve seen the trailer to the film Nine Lives you have, in essence, seen the entire film. You miss a few cute and funny cat videos (if you like that sort of thing) and a couple of subplots that give the central narrative more substance but that’s about it.
Kevin Spacey plays Tom Brand a business executive who spends so much time at work that his family relationships suffer; so far, so unoriginal. Indeed, as storylines go there is little here that will come as a surprise. Tom has an accident and, through the magic of movies, his body is left in a coma and his consciousness (his soul?) inhabits his pet cat, who he dislikes.
Like all movies of this style he resists his new reality until he at first, sullenly accepts it, then comes to terms with it, realises the error of his ways and finally performs a sacrificial act that ensures his redemption and reunites body and soul with the film ending on a note of “and they all lived happily ever after”. The film does play out like a modern day fairy-tale and is likable and humorous as a piece of entertainment.
Whilst watching Tom go through his transformative journey of self-reflection and discovery it lead me to consider what have been those transformative moments for me? Some are very easy to pinpoint, they are the very high and low moments of my life: my falling in love with and marrying my husband; my becoming pregnant and being a parent; the death of my dad and my miscarriages; all these things are easy to bring to mind and to see their transforming effect and all without having to inhabit a cat’s body!
These events that force change upon us, (moving house, losing a job, starting school or university to add a few more) can be opportunities for positive change. We can reflect on our own “journey” so far and the way ahead. The Strictly celebrities, Bake-Off and Sewing-Bee contestants often speak of their journey and the transformation that takes place the longer they stay in the show. When an event dominates your life for an extended period in a dramatic way it must change us.
When we read St Paul’s writing in the New Testament and the accounts of Pentecost for the Apostles it is clear to see how these dramatic encounters with God have a profound transforming impact upon them. So, when we consider our own faith lives, what have been those transformative faith experiences for ourselves?
It may be that you create the same list as before, and that would partly be true for me, but I also add to the list those moments of prayer when I have bared my soul before God and felt his presence, when I have witnessed miracles performed and being part of a vibrant, faithful, charismatic community. These too have shaped and formed me.
In the film, for Tom to be redeemed he has to sacrifice himself, to put himself last instead of first. All transformation demands some sacrifice, but as Christians we know that our flawed, imperfect existence cannot be redeemed through our own effort, no matter how noble or generous it may be. Ultimately it is Jesus’ sacrifice alone that can redeem us, his action on the cross that allows our ultimate transformation to be possible.