"Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful;
And since we've no place to go,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."
My blog post today is a play on those lyrics. Allow me to explain.
As a child, I had lots of heroes. But few of them compared with a modern day knight named Marion Robert Morrison. Never heard of him? Sure you have; for his stage name was none other than John Wayne.
“The Duke”, as he was widely and affectionately known in the film industry, was undeniably a true American icon. He was the quintessential cowboy, the undisputed king of westerns, and the unrivaled star of many another movie.
According to Wikipedia:
“His career flourished from the silent era of the 1920s through the American New Wave, as he appeared in a total of 179 film and television productions. He was among the top box-office draws for three decades, and appeared with many other important Hollywood stars of his era. In 1999, the American Film Institute selected Wayne as one of the greatest male stars of classic American cinema.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that when a certain television network recently announced its upcoming “John Wayne Marathon”, both I (and my DVR) took notice. But as I programmed in the films I (we) intended to record, I was struck by something I had not heretofore grasped. That was just how many of his films contained the term “Rio” in the title. These include “Rio Grande”, “Rio Bravo”, and “Rio Lobo”.
Now, to be sure, Hollywood is replete with sequels whose titles include the repetition of a given term. Such franchises as “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones”, “Die Hard”, and “Jaws” all come to mind. But in each case, these all involved the continuation of a given story line. By contrast, the various “Rio” titles of Wayne’s films all involved separate and stand-alone plots.
Still, I am struck by the notion that they each revolve around a given element: that of rivers. After all, the term “rio” is simply the Spanish term for the English term “river”. And thus, if there was ever a theme to encapsulate John Wayne’s own large volume of work on the silver screen, perhaps it is that of a river. After all, even in those films where it is not part of the title, we see the river theme on display over and over again.
Who can forget the vast Arkansas river being crossed with great effort by little Mattie Ross (played by Kim Darby) in the only movie for which Wayne won an Academy Award, 1969’s “True Grit”? Or what about the classic sequel to that very movie, “Rooster Cogburn”, in which Wayne must transport a spinster named “Eula Goodnight” (played by Katherine Hepburn), to safety down a long, winding, and treacherous river?
These are but two of the many, many examples I could cite of the recurrence of river themes in the Duke’s movies. For whatever reason, they seem to be quite prevalent.
Of course, Wayne himself was no coward when it came to stating and sharing his views - be they political, social, or otherwise. In that sense, he, himself, was also a river. For out of him inevitably flowed his personal convictions and views on a plethora of subjects.
And in this sense, at least, is not John Wayne just a symbol for each and every one of us? After all, do we not all ultimately send downstream an assorted concoction of our accumulated values, opinions, and preferences? I know I do.
The Bible, too, makes much of the imagery of rivers. There, in an often arid and desolate land, such waters alone make possible, not only life, but life in abundance. Such examples include Psalm 1, Psalm 46, and Revelation 22. I have personally been to the lands of the Bible on many occasions. And I can testify that where there are rivers, there is life; and conversely, where there are no rivers, there is also no life.
Does it not, therefore, behoove those of us who have experienced the benefit of life due to our association with the River of Life, Himself - the very Son of God, Jesus Christ - to share that life-giving hydration with those who are still spiritually parched and thirsting to death?
Remember, Jesus, Himself, told the woman at the well that “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
I, for one, am grateful that I have drunk of that life-giving spring. And now, I gladly let the excess brimming from me overflow downstream to any and all would-be recipients.
Back in the day, we used to gather in our youth group at our local Baptist Church and sing these words…
I’ve Got A River Of Life Flowing Out Of Me
Makes The Lame To Walk And The Blind To See,
Opens Prison Doors, Sets The Captives Free
I’ve Got A River Of Life Flowing Out Of Me.
Spring Up, O Well
Within My Soul,
Spring Up, O Well
And Make Me Whole,
Spring Up, O Well
And Give To Me
That Life Abundantly!
There’s A Fountain Flowing From The Savior’s Side,
All My Sins Forgiven In That Precious Tide,
Jesus Paid The Price When For Me He Died,
There’s A Fountain Flowing From The Savior’s Side.
There’s A Risen Savior At The Father’s Throne,
Ever Interceding For His Very Own,
Pouring Down The Blessings That Are His Alone.
There’s A Risen Savior At The Father’s Throne.
There’s A Holy Comforter Who’s Sent From Heaven,
All The Glorious Gifts Are His, And Have Been Given,
He’ll Show Us More Of Jesus ‘Til The Veil Is Riven.
There’s A Holy Comforter Who’s Sent From Heaven.
There’s A Land Of Rest That We May Enter Now,
Freed From All Our Works And Freed From Satan’s Power,
Just Resting In The Lord Each Moment And Each Hour.
There’s A Land Of Rest That We May Enter Now.
There’s Full Salvation Wrought For You And Me,
From Faith To Faith And Glory To Glory Eternally,
O Lord, Just Take This Life And Let Me Live For Thee.
There’s A Full Salvation Wrought For You And Me.
All these years later, I still have a river of life flowing out of me. And I hope, thenceforward, to… “Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow!”
CHRISTMAS SONG LYRICS:
JOHN WAYNE STATISTICS:
PRAISE SONG LYRICS:
LASTLY, SEE ALSO:
(If nothing else, this proves that great minds do, indeed, think alike. Over the years, John Wayne produced three "Rio" movies; and over the years, intentionally or not, I have now produced three "John Wayne" posts.)