In the midst of unrelenting rain and wind this weekend, I stumbled across the film A Monsters Call. The Guardian newspaper notes the actor Lewis MacDougall, is the film’s main asset. This is not just a film about grief; it’s a film that immerses you in both life and grief. It’s a part of everyone’s journey.

A Monster Calls is the story of a 12-year-old boy coming to terms with the fact that his mother is dying. Its extraordinary power lies in the interweaving of the fantastical and the everyday. As a result, a tree monster comes to tell three stories. I was captured by the first two stories and the lessons any Christian, Buddhist or any person could learn.

I offer my thoughts of the monster’s first story.

The Story

There was a wise king who had won peace for his people. But that very peace came with a heavy price, for he lost all three sons in battle. The Queen was unable to bear the loss and died. The King was left with his only surviving heir, an orphaned grandson. The King raised his grandson as a Prince who won the love of the Kingdom with his prowess and golden heart. His people loved the Prince.

The Prince was nearly a man when his grandfather took a wife. When the King became sick, rumor spread the Queen was an evil witch who wanted the throne and poisoned the King. A few weeks later the King died.

Meanwhile, the Prince fell in love with a local woman. She was beautiful and smart, and, while only the daughter of a farmer, the Kingdom was happy for the couple. The Queen, however, enjoyed being the Queen. And she thought, what better way to continue being the queen than by marrying the Prince?

The Prince, however, thought better of it and rode off with the farmer’s daughter into the night. The two stopped to rest under a tree. When the Prince awoke, he found someone killed his lover during the night. “The Queen“, he cried. “The Queen murdered my bride.” Full of anger and revenge, the villagers rebelled. And the Queen was never seen again.

Key Takeaway – The Unknown Known

For every story, a hidden truth remains unearthed. The Prince did not fall asleep that night. Rather, he waited for his love to asleep and knew her death would stir anger that the city would set to destroy the Queen. The monster never said the Queen killed the farmer’s daughter. We were only told the Prince said that. The Monster admitted saving the Queen and taking her far away where she began life anew. It’s such a waste knowing how people would willingly accept the unreality of that which surrounds us as real.

Spiritual Lesson 1

In life, many things appearing true aren’t. People (just as the Prince) may receive rewards they don’t deserve. Ordinary everyday people (like the farmer’s daughter) die without reason. Others (like the King) get old, sick and die. Sometimes, bad people (such as the Queen) deserves to be saved. Lastly, all of us will do bad things (like the Prince), but sometimes we become really good people (like the Prince) as a result.

Spiritual Lesson 2

There isn’t always one truly good person or villain. Most of us fall somewhere in-between. There is no absolute black or white. All of us will need to hear things or tell ourselves things that soothe our hearts. And while those words may not always be truthful, and we might even know they’re not, they help.  In other moments, only the truth will do, even if it hurts.

To really live life, personal bravery is required.