Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Give all, lose nothing


The plans we make and pursue will always have the sterility of self-reference - in more or less degrees - and they thus fall with us (in more or less degrees) and do not satisfy. Unless something largely unplanned happens. It's not to say our plans are wicked and evil (though in this day, who knows) but that we fail at allowing those plans to be enlarged - supernaturally enlarged.

When they are fulfilled, or, sometimes more deliciously, when they are in the process of being fulfilled, it is not that the plans don't bring joy. For they often do. But we don't offer it, give it to God, which would carry us to better heights. Happiness (I hesitate to write that word...grrr, this is starting to sound like Emerson) occurs to the extent that we "radicalize" the plans we make, counterbalancing them with the unplanned.

Then there are things we can do that are acts of such radical trust, acts that don't plan for something large to give or offer, but heave it all up, right now as one is - everything to do with one's self, from possessions to failings to successes to the most mundane - that from there on in, it just gets better and better, with surprise and fulfilment. Consecration is one of those things - one of those acts.

(Note surprise and fulfilment. Take all materialist and even "spiritual" thoughts of "better and better" and throw it in the mud where it belongs.)

There is a book you can order and get for free, with the addendum of course that you are decided to make the preparation and consecration - to Mary.

The book, with all the directions and schedules can be found here. All they need is your mailing address.

This is Preparation for Total Consecration according to Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. There are 21 feast days of Mary which you can choose from to be the day on which you consecrate yourself to Jesus Christ through Mary. Actually, it is more like Mary consecrates you to Jesus. The preparation is 33 days of prayers and readings to be done, leading up to the Marian feast day you have chosen, the 34th. day.

Last year, I chose, almost randomly, Our Lady of Czestochowa, August 26th. I did all the readings and prayers leading to the day, and on that day, which I believe fell on a Sunday, I drove to a parish that had a grotto. As most do have, or something like it.

The outside grotto is off to the side of the church that leads to its adoration chapel. The statue of Mary, which has been replaced with a different one, stood at the center of a paved circle - and I knelt down on the broiling bricks on a summer afternoon. I could have picked a better-looking statue. This one was in the classical pose (the pose found on the miraculous medal on my side bar) but the cheap gaudy paint was chipping off all over - the face and hands and all. On my knees with one of the leprous-painted hands, which yet held the gentle power of Mary, extended by my face, I prayed the consecration prayer as best I could, and I signed my name in the book where it says to place your signature.

And that was it. I got up and walked to my car and drove off. I took a couple of turns and, as I was driving, there was an all-around, quickened presence, of something, or more accurately, somebody - two somebodies. Two parents. It seemed like they pressed in with love. Two parents as one, who had all the amiability not found in any earthly parent in such a manner (except in rare fragmented ways), whose amiability is constant and overflowing in an instant. How could docility be such power? I knew that I could make thousands upon thousands of consecrations, giving everything with more abandon than I did before the last, and still it would be nothing to how immediately giving were these two. And I was between them both, and I knew that what I had just done was a good thing.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Water blessed


Blessed, the wet smell of showered woods - rising
nostril inebriation: soaked sponge rot
of the felled firs; foliating air spice
the evergreens give, and rain-milled grass;
bath of the meadow, the slick on the trunks;
the silent, ongoing dirge of the slugs.

Blessed, the birds' flickering bodies
as though fields' hues, varying, painted them,
charming the boughs that drip to the songs they give.
Blessed, the hidden pools the forest clasps
like shivering gems! Under drooping roofs
that shorten down the entrance to a path!

Blessed, clean walkways and ones that crowd
with wet, laden and leaning, waist-high over
fruiting their drops in an instant of fast-soak.
Blessed, the steam lifting slow on the dell,
and the unwavering, up-soaring boles,
tolling eternity from where the rain falls.

The diffusion of Christ's mercy

and the signature of His love in these times do not revoke themselves, but are poured out to the lees in every cranny and corner.

Everywhere.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wisdom of Solomon

1 Or someone else, taking ship to cross the wild waves, loudly invokes a piece of wood frailer than the vessel that bears him.
2 Agreed, the ship is the product of a craving for gain, its building embodies the wisdom of the shipwright;
3 but your providence, Father, is what steers it, you having opened a pathway even through the sea, and a safe way over the waves,
4 showing that you can save, whatever happens, so that, even without experience, someone may put to sea.
5 It is not your will that the works of your Wisdom should be sterile, so people entrust their lives to the smallest piece of wood, cross the waves on a raft, yet are kept safe and sound.
6 Why, in the beginning, when the proud giants were perishing, the hope of the world took refuge on a raft and, steered by your hand, preserved the seed of a new generation for the ages to come.
7 For blessed is the wood which serves the cause of uprightness.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Seven is a good number

Ghazala Ibrahim Omar, an Egyptian woman, became a mother of seven children pretty much all at once, at age 27. One doctor says it's a miracle, since the mother did not take stimulants during ovulation. I guess taking stimulants increases the possibility of having more than one child at the same time - I'm not sure how that works. Providence simply gave her seven children.

There's four boys and three girls. She gave birth at Alexandria in the Mediterranean. The word for seven babies born at once (from the same womb) is septuplets - which I would not know meant "seven" if you simply told me a mother had septuplets. I would have to ruminate, and after triplets and quadruplets I would be stumped. Though now I know.

So it runs: Twins, Triplets, Quadruplets, Quintuplets, Sextuplets, Septuplets, Octuplets, Nonuplets, Decaplets, Undecaplets, Duodecaplets (this is twelve offspring in case you've lost count), Tredecaplets, Quattrodecaplets, Quindecaplets (fifteen babies).

I don't know what happens after fifteen. I'm quessing no woman would want to know. Though I'm sure the husband, especially if no artificial stimulants were involved, would be proud of his work.

Or like say, if it were septuplets - no stimulants. Someone give the man a cigar. A good cigar.

And in case you were thinking the terms were somehow geometrically based, as I mistakenly thought they were, they are musically based - which of course makes sense. See "Tuplet" here. The musicality - and music - of creation. But what about the "Caplet" ones?

Elusive signs of life

A pregnant woman in Israel went for testing which showed there was internal bleeding and that the child in her womb did not show signs of life. She underwent an abortion (though I don't know how it could be considered an abortion if they thought the child was already dead) and the child was removed without any pulse. The doctor pronounced the five month baby girl dead and put her into the cooler.

She was in there for five hours. The husband came to the hospital, which is in Nahariya in northern Israel, to take his dead child for burial. When the child was taken out of the cooler she began to breathe. She was then taken to the intensive care ward.

Story here.

What's the real scenario? Extreme negligence by the doctor (being hasty in assessing the child as dead both before and after "the abortion") - or miracle?

I think it was negligence, perhaps extreme negligent stupidity - with the addendum of how miraculously resilient the life of even a five month old girl is, being in a cooler for five hours.

H/T: Spirit Daily

Update: Sadly, the child has died. See the story here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

And you will too

A pregnant traffic cop in the Bronx was struck by a bus while off duty on Thursday. 3o strangers came and lifted the bus off her body and she was pulled out.

"We did not really communicate, we all just started lifting. We lifted it up and someone pulled her out," said Madalina Diaz.

The woman, Donnette Sanz, was rushed to the hospital where her baby at six months was delivered through caesarian section. Then a few minutes after delivery the mother died.

Thirty able strangers helped to save the life of an unborn child, helping to save the life of the woman - including the help of those at the hospital - while the woman who was mortally struck down, carried the child through.

Life out of death.

And one day you and I will die too - what will be born of it?

Full story here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Acrostic poem (on Poetry)

Presence spells where one's guttural cave drips, spent.
Outing of misery begins, laconically enough:
Ease on through obfuscation; blaze plain, and where
The feather touch fails, use the freight train.
Response is nothing. What’s behind of behind of behind
Yields like a child to the banquet in his mother’s mind.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Yoga, Helpless Wretchedness, and Memory's Last Word

"If an individual can be credited with reviving yoga in this country (India), it is solely Swami Ramdev [Maharaj]. Yoga can cure even fatal diseases and Swami Ramdev has definitely proved it time and again. Swami Ramdev has spread yoga to such an extent that sooner or later, one has to embrace it." --Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ("world-renowned spiritual leader")

Swami Ramdev has spread yoga to such an extent that sooner or later, one has to embrace it - even if you're a Cloverdale resident asleep at 5:30 in the morning.

Some residents in Cloverdale (small town in British Columbia), woken in the dark before dawn by "amplified East Indian voices", were apparently unaware that a world leading yoga-meister was gracing their stomping grounds with his presence - along with thousands of his followers - down yonder at the Cloverdale Millennium Amphitheatre.

It was a five-day "yoga camp", which Swami Ramdev Maharaj takes all over the world. Sources say the camps are free to attend. Though the Surrey Now reports some paid $500 "to sit closer to the stage". Free for all indeed. Even residents a couple miles away near Highway 10, without paying a penny, were transported out of their sleep and enlightened by pranayam, a quiet breathing exercise - extolled through loud speakers. There were chants, testimonials, and drums.

Swami Ramdev Maharaj says yoga is a "complete medical science, a philosophy of life, a way of life." The cures testified to abound. AIDS, cancer, you name it. He's done the admirable ascetical mile: lived in the Himalayas, caves, renounced worldly pleasure, is a lifelong celibate, has been near death several times, extols compassion towards others as a kind of worship of God - of course the immanent God: God within each person.

Myself, I largely prefer the transcendent God - the One Who, when He does manifest Himself within one, amplifies how wretched one is, out of mere ontological contrast; amplified like the wave lengths from those loud speakers. Because in that wretchedness I am liberated, knowing that God is What, is Who, made me, and Who perfects me, according to His will; and I can love Him in my wretchedness and He lets me do so, loving me even in my wretchedness. The transcendent God: God.

I am not sure that Swami Ramdev Maharaj appeared on the Cloverdale scene in such aurora splendour as seen here. Though I am taken exceeding with what contrast there may have been. Multiculturalism is a sophomoric fantasy, and depends on globalism, which is anything but "multicultural". Localism on the other hand is the only true precedent through which diversity can flourish at all. Take the contrasts of the United Kingdom (minus the "multicultural" invasion of Moslems): take the English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh. They are all neighbours, quite fundamentally different from each other, but because of the inherent locality in which their differences exist, they are very much dependent on one another.

But then you have the overseas contrast; the vapourising of borders; this garish machine called multiculturalism. It's as much an unthinking, self-excusing, and in the worst cases, self-aggrandizing byword as tolerance. I say this only by way of getting at the concrete scenario of Cloverdale residents being woken at 5:30 a.m. by the quietism of the Indian guru and his ilk. I am only pointing out the incongruity of the scenario. Yoga is fast becoming the world-wide practise it purports to be (it purports to be for eveyone, atheists included) - but it originated somewhere, at some definite, specific locality.

It can pretend to be globally applicable all it wants. You're just going to end up with concrete incongruities which lend themselves to absurd humour. Or otherwise, where the eastern practices together with the late-stage disinheritance and mediocre collectivism of a western setting conspire in one homogenous cultural milkiness, you get humourless lockstep uniformity. Some locales though still retain a stubbornness: famed Indian guru brings his yoga teachings and exercises and testimonies and following...to Cloverdale.

Cloverdale: home to Canada's second largest rodeo. Home to numerous antique shops, antique auctions, flea markets, events and country fairs in surfeit, horse stuff, zone 6b fields, unconscious twangs, cowboy hats, and one horse track - recently adjoined, with an abominable casino.

There is the Millennium Amphitheatre. These grounds are venue to all sorts of events. Woman Sikh gatherings and Canada Day fireworks and performing bands and singers. Tom Cochrane once sang there. Other more famous singers too. But before, they were also grounds to the ancient "sanskrit" of human folly.

***

I know the Cloverdale fairgrounds well. Because I knew them before and as they were being changed. Much of it is still the same. I remember the innumerable times sneaking into the grounds with my friends as an adolescent, year-round. We knew all the dugouts below certain areas of fencing; knew the mountains (literally, mountains) of compacted gravel that once stood near the Stetson Bowl, where all the rodeo hoopla takes place in late spring. There was a Native kid who would sporadically attend math class, who once showed us how you could position your feet and crouch and slide all the way down the compacted gravel mountains.

As said, the rodeo only takes place once a year, then the Stetson Bowl is vacant. Below the rising bleachers, sometimes finding coin in the dirt which had fallen out of peoples' pockets from when they had sat above, the depression was an encompassing vacuum.

G.K. Chesterton describes it well in his Father Brown story, The God of the Gongs:

“Well,” said Flambeau, “I never murdered anyone, even in my criminal days, but I can almost sympathize with anyone doing it in such a dreary place. Of all God-forsaken dustbins of Nature, I think the most heart-breaking are places like that bandstand, that were meant to be festive and are forlorn. I can fancy a morbid man feeling he must kill his rival in the solitude and irony of such a scene. I remember once taking a tramp in your glorious Surrey hills, thinking of nothing but gorse and skylarks, when I came out on a vast circle of land, and over me lifted a vast, voiceless structure, tier above tier of seats, as huge as a Roman amphitheatre and as empty as a new letter-rack. A bird sailed in heaven over it. It was the Grand Stand at Epsom. And I felt that no one would ever be happy there again.”

We knew one kid whose house was behind the forest that led one to the back of the Stetson Bowl before going to the fairgrounds. We would find salamanders crawling in the moist peat and moss, and we would head out of the forest, past the giant pond that erupts at night with the cannonade of frogs and into the fairgrounds, fooling around.

There was one kid who had red hair. He was the troublemaker. I was with him after school once, down below the bleachers. There was the closed down concession building and next to it a pay phone. We had our bikes. We would sneak into these areas and on to the barren, grandiose circuit of wooden bleachers that rose around us in a stasis of exhaustion, or look down into the vacant stalls that, during the only three days a year that filled the place with crowds, would hold the calves or bulls. In the rising rungs of the seats we would do stupid mock cowboy hoedowns, laughing our heads off.

We were down by the concession building and my friend with the red hair picked up the receiver of the phone and dialled: 911. I was watching him, straddling my bike.

He begins doing a hoedown with the receiver to his ear, and as the thick grey clouds filed overhead those empty grounds, he says into the receiver, still doing his hoedown:

9-1-1 is a joke in your- tooowwwwwn!

9-1-1 is a joke in your- tooowwwwwn!

9-1-1 is a joke in your- tooowwwwwn!

It was from a rap song. Then we skedaddled on our bikes, dragging them under the fence and started making our way up the hill that leads to the school which overlooks all of it: the horse track, casino, Stetson Bowl, fairgrounds, the Agriplex building, the Millennium Amphitheatre, all of it.

When we were well up the hill, we looked back. And there, where the public phone was and where we were a short while ago, in complete contradiction to what my friend had just said into the phone, were two cruisers, like two crocodiles arrived at some point in water where a potential casualty was making a splash, but got away before they got there.

***

I know those grounds well. Something of my wretchedness belongs there - where all kinds gather.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Abide, a little while longer

The silent masses of icy clouds make
in tidal scores, an island of the moon,
where an aperture forms for a few beats:
archipelagos full lit, ply all around,
growing back as one land in miraculous feats
as persistently as a sea’s waves sound.
All stasis burns up, but for the one plunked hole,
where the moon stares through and purely stains the clouds
as startle-hued as the blue heron’s back
when across both wings his steely cloud unfolds -
were his body a vase of frosted glass
that encased a white light in its core.
And likewise as the heron’s winging slow,
the flight thereof gathers largess the more -

until, like a train’s rear comes, and in its tow
naught but field landscape, the clouds’ charged passage
with the abruptness of black, will halt.
As the yanked back ocean leaves living pools,
now vestige clouds, calm as separate mounds of graves
or beached and stranded ships, still blue-lit,
sing in the dead of middle night - as heard
by those strangely out of bed, twixt day and day,
both of which are in this night interred:
the former as corpse, the latter as seed,
while eternity lays beyond and yet between
as between the clouds, in the fathomless black,
the furthest islands twinkling, the stars.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Shawshank Redemption: Ascendancy of Hope


So, today is my last day working at Ye Olde Grocery Store, which I have been working at for eleven years. Today also happens to be the day that I have finished The Shawshank Redemption film review that I have been writing this past week. Today is also the feast day of St. Peter in chains, that is, the feast day that commemorates Saint Peter being released from his chains in prison by an angel and his escape thereof, as found in Acts 12: 6-11. All three a coincidence? I. Don't. Think so.

Well, the film review was a little rushed to fit, but still. Enjoy.

The following is not so much a "film review" in the streamlined sense. It is essayistic and retrospective, and assumes that the reader has seen the film at least once. If you have not seen it, then it is recommended you do not read, as it will only spoil the film for you.


The Shawshank Redemption is one of those films so loved by people that it risks becoming impervious to all objective criticism. It seems to have become every man's mirror of catharsis to just about any suffering one may be going through, apparently. So to approach this redemptive glow around the film and offer criticisms will inevitably risk sounding petty. Nonetheless, to name a few up front that could be applied: the film is too episodic; there is too much didactic carriage of the film's themes (characters becoming the writer's mouthpieces); and one sequence in particular that should not have been shown.

There are basically three, to my mind. If these fallouts were anticipated by the filmmaker, the film would have been that much more an impeccable and uniquely American masterpiece - and far more powerful. Though it is with its imperfections, still a masterpiece of sorts.

Before hitting upon those three imperfections, there are the moral ambiguities. They mostly pertain to the dilemma of Andy helping the warden to launder his ill-gotten money - and then Andy taking that money at the end. Moral ambiguities are by no means a detriment to a film, especially a prison film, except for where they may most certainly be misinterpreted, or misappropriated. Here they run the risk of misinterpretation as to what the redemption in the film is, and misappropriation as to where the redemption lies.

There is certainly redemption, but it has nothing really to do with Andy's escape or ironical gain of money. As a sort of materialistic, rudimentary, collateral "redemption", the character of Andy gets a kind in this regard: surely driving a mustang with the top down along the Pacific is better than being sodomized, or held in solitary confinement for two months on end.

But there is a redemption in this film far greater and which is the real redemption. Aside from assessing possible misinterpretation, one must not get too puritanical in these matters. For the film does not go to any great lengths to justify Andy in what he does. There is one scene in which he talks about the injustice of his being in prison, due to being wrongly accused. He goes on to say he has not deserved it and that whatever other wrong he has done in the meantime he has more than certainly paid for, and that a boat and hotel on the beach is not much to ask for. Apparently, gaining more than $300, 000 of laundered money is not much to ask for either. But there is also recognition of his wrongdoing before this scene, in which Andy says that before he came to prison he was straight as an arrow, and that he had to come to prison to become a crook, referring of course to the money laundering.

So, as they say, like, whatever: these parts of the film are morally ambiguous. I would say, nothing more, nothing less. Especially when taken in light of what kind of character Andy is. Andy is a catalyst character. He is time and again referred to as having "feathers too bright", and having a "a sort of force field". He is like Coffee in the lesser film, The Green Mile, only more wily and not so, uhm, Jesus-like. He is almost like the "Randell Stevens" who he "conjures out of thin air" as the possible accused if all the laundered money were to be traced. Andy is a character who, though being real enough, serves as a catalyst. A catalyst for what? Well, a catalyst for Red.

That will be taken up later. But the three imperfections first. While the smaller stories do carry currents with the overarching story, and while there are metaphorical continuities that bind the passage of time, there is a sense throughout the earlier-middle part of the film where there is too much a construct of "episodes", or anecdotes, from one scene to the next.

This is not too great a deal, for the story is being narrated by Red in retrospect; and that sort of thing is conducive to being anecdotic. It's hard for a filmmaker to find his way through such things. Really, the only solution lies in going back through the story in its writing stage and re-setting, and hence reimbursing, the foundations. It's a small criticism, for these scenes pull through and they work themselves out later on. While episodic, they don't simply stand there in the film.

There are the major faults in the film though: the characters becoming mouthpieces for the story's themes. It takes place largely in one scene. The scene where the boys talk amongst themselves after Brooks puts a knife to Haywood's throat after learning that his parole has been approved. There is a real and powerful sense of this being "institutionalized" the very moment when after Brooks drops the knife and starts sobbing, and Red asks Haywood what he did to set Brooks off like that, and Haywood says he came to say farewell, because Brook's parole has been approved. One is startled by this.

But then the writers give us a whopper of a scene where e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is laid out for us. Red goes on about being institutionalized and all of it is simply bang on and nicely squared up - and simply none of it belongs in a film that is about being institutionalized and escape and hope. The entire scope of the film is about these things; the whole arch of the story. When you have that, you do not bring in expository dead weight. What's the point in having a film about such things if the film can't be about it by itself? Herein lays the power of film and of all art. You are penetrating to the mystery without killing it.

The film does this for a moment (penetrating the mystery without killing it) the minute Haywood gives his answer to Red. And the film at that point should have given us no explanation; for then this phenomenon known as "institutionalization" would have been extremely vivid to us, and would have been that much more potently carried through the film to its hope's end.

There are expository scenes of course that do work. One for sure is when Andy gets out of the hole for playing Mozart on all the speakers and has his discussion with Red about hope. The differing states and outlooks of the two characters are given to us. The scene is vital, which brings us to the third imperfection: the depiction of Brooks' suicide.

This was a mistake. Brooks' suicide should have been given through Andy reading the letter, perhaps with Brooks' narration taking place of his, but without giving us the visual information of Brooks killing himself. For one, there is something exploitive about showing the poor old man hanging himself. Second, it ties in with the aforementioned fault of the film, the expositing of the film's themes through characters as mouthpieces. This is the major objection to showing Brooks' suicide: that, just as not having the characters explain "institutionalization" would have made "institutionalization" that much more vivid, so the whole deal with "what happens to Brooks" would have been more powerful if it was not shown, but given to us instead through the narration of the letter - perhaps exchanged back and forth with brief shots of Brooks on "the outside".

This would have leant the discussion about hope between Red and Andy further poignancy. Picture the part where Red says to Andy, "It's [hope] got no use on the inside. You better get used to that." And Andy answers back, "Like Brooks did?" Clarity through obfuscation.

So this lands one back with Red. Andy's his catalyst. Note especially around the beginning of the film, how Red's eyes linger on Andy in scene after scene. The film does not underline it too much, but it's there. He's drawn in by something, as though being called from a distance; something perhaps he desires in spite of himself. He knows it is something dangerous; not morally dangerous, but dangerous to his own set ways of prison-life.

Red is the "Only guilty man in Shawshank", by his own admission. This is interesting. No one in Shawshank will, apparently, admit his own guilt. Red does. He can't try otherwise. There's nothing dramatic or outspoken about his regret. It's a kind of accepted weariness; a kind of death. Reality has busted his chops, and he's not going to kick against the goad.

But he's stirred by Andy. We find here the fulcrum on which the arch of the film turns. We are introduced into the story through Red's narration. He narrates what is the story of this character Andy and his own friendship with him, down through the years of prison life. He recounts all the things that happened, not giving us a single glimpse into his own psyche, not a cent - nothing.

But then later, later, we hit upon the pivot: this is Red's story, taking place in the afterglow, being narrated in the short span just before being released from prison and being on the bus. And the "redemption" of the title of the film is his, to which Andy's escape through a half mile pipe of "shit smelling foulness" is but a shadowy anticipation.

And Red's redemption consists "merely" of this: that, once being released from prison, he is to make a move according to free will in the unfamiliar, alienating, spatial freedom of the outside world, which oddly enough to his discovery, and to Brooks before him, is no automatic harbinger of interior freedom, is no banisher of fear. Indeed, it is very much the opposite in that it shows up the interior prison that has been there all along and which every person has to face. Red's redemption consists in this: outside of prison, to choose to continue his friendship with Andy.

It is very significant. For while their friendship inside of prison may not have been based solely on convenience or practicality, the fact is that, while in prison it was never necessary for Red to be faced with the real meaning, the real basis, for carrying on that friendship. It was never necessary to engage that friendship out of free will.

This is what lends so much poignancy to the film's ending sequences. And it is of course the film's last moments where Red discovers hope that are the most beautiful. When the two meet on the beach, it is not the fact that the two friends are meeting again that catches you in the throat; it's something else. It is that Red has made the choice, and here he is, to take his own words when he was trying to convince the parole board of his "rehabilitation" all those years, "a changed man" - and he really is. Hope. Totally unsentimental, The Shawshank Redemption may be the one and only film to have the two-friends-meeting-on-the-beach scene that does it right. Graceful, deliberate and august, the scene hits the perfect note.

Those so-called film purists who are of the opinion that the beach scene should not be in the film don't understand how the film's ending is Red's beginning.

Getting back to Red's found freedom. He rejects despair by not looking to himself, but by looking to following the path that Andy has laid down for him to follow. Strange and poetic directions Andy gives to Red. To find that particular field and that particular oak and find that particular rock to pry up and find something he doesn’t know about. Red says to Andy in prison how something like the Pacific would scare him near to death, something that big.

But he follows, and in following, like we who are called to ultimate beatitude in heaven, he finds he is but at the beginning of his journey. He follows this belief, which before he was scared to give even a faint voice to, that there is some eternal basis to our pursuance, that there is a purpose, a unique purpose we are called to. And that belief, or the pursuance thereof, what does it hinge upon? Hope.

Hope in a certain sense demands smallness. Red begins to give voice to each hope as it comes to him, in this freedom of redemption in time, and the pursuing of beatitude:

I hope to make it across the border.

I hope to see my friend and shake his hand.

I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.

I hope.