Catholic Cast Aways

Thomas Griffin (7/16/20)


Experiencing loneliness, fear, abandonment, boredom, and despair are some of the most potent and powerful emotions for a human being. These are times when we are left to our own devices in coping with them. Some were lucky enough to find themselves around family members; some were stranded with no one around. Whether we were physically alone or found ourselves around others, being stuck in the same location for an extended period of time has many challenges. A chorus of monotony can often lead to depression and a temptation to give into bad emotions.

To defeat these temptations it is imperative that we recognize them and investigate ways to drive them away. We can find inspiration from a countless number of areas, including the cinema. The movie Cast Away starring Tom Hanks was released in 2000 and has continued to remain a timeless film regarding loneliness, despair, and perseverance. Hanks plays a FedEx employee (Chuck Noland) whose plane crashes on Christmas Eve. He is the lone survivor that remains stranded for over four years on a deserted island. 

Hanks goes through an intense journey in his desolation. Ultimately, there are two objects that keep his focus on hope and survival: a locket with the picture of his fiance and a painted volleyball turned friend named Wilson. Hanks spends sleepless nights in a cave with Wilson and the locket perched on an eye-level rock. Throughout the night there are battles between using up the battery in his only flashlight, or having no view of the face of his fiance and volleyball friend. Most nights, he chooses the sight of presence over the fear of losing battery life. In these sleepless nights there are several scenes showing Hanks in the cave. There is no noise or speech: the only sound you can hear is the clicking, on and off, of his flashlight. 

Tom Hanks experiences his own desert filled with temptations towards despair and loneliness. Recently, people around the world have been sanctioned or, at a minimum, heavily persuaded to stay in their own homes. Even if we are blessed to be surrounded by family, many of us may still experience loneliness or a fear of missing out. We may be surrounded by others, and have the internet and social media at our fingertips, but we still feel like castaways. 

The challenge of our present moment in the Church and in our world is not the lack of community, but the choice to choose fear of battery loss over the sight of the locket and the volleyball friend. In order to become stronger, we must remain focused on the Scriptures, prayer, the rosary, and spiritual reading along with having important conversations with our loved ones concerning life, illness and even death. 

The grandeur of the Christian message is the inability for any negative reality or emotion to defeat us. With Christ by our side there is nothing that cannot be conquered. 

Find your locket and your Wilson; let Christ cast away all darkness of fear through his unwavering presence to us, wherever we find ourselves.

Thomas Griffin teaches Apologetics in the religion department at a Catholic high school on Long Island and lives with his wife. He received a master’s degree in theology and is currently a master’s candidate in philosophy. He writes for several Catholic media outlets.

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