John Carradine as Casey:
I’ve got nothing to preach about no more. That’s all. I ain’t so sure of things. My heart ain’t in it. All that lives is holy.
Henry Fonda as Tom Joad:
A fellow ain’t got a soul of his own, just a piece of one big soul that belongs to everyone. Find out what’s wrong and see if something can be done about it.
Carradine and Fonda spoke those words in a 1940 film based on John Steinbeck’s prize-winning novel, “Grapes of Wrath.“ It is the story of an Oklahoma family who lost their farm during the Great Depression/Dust Bowl in the 1930’s and their grueling trip west to California in search of work. Their roles showed how personal hardship created an opening to understanding and holiness. They touched my ecumenical soul and led me to ask, what if common people really do have common sense?
Carl Jung said that we respect what we regard as holy. What if we could see the intrinsic holiness in everyone? Could it moderate our egos and allow us to be much more respectful and accepting of all people regardless of whom they are or what they have done? What if we could see the inherent holiness in our planet’s resources, plants and animals? Would our respect and care for them grow?
Maybe the first step is to know our own indewelling holiness regardless of our failures and shortcomings and therefore know this holiness exists in all other people and all things. Like Steinbeck’s Casey and Tom Joad, the privilege of that experience often comes through graced hardship.
Theologian Richard Rohr, “People who don’t get it teach us how to love.”