Although this film came out a few years ago, it was just recently that I got to learn more about it and what it has to teach us about the mysterious ways God works in and through our lives. For those who know nothing about this film, it is the story of a man Paul Edgecombe who was once the block supervisor of the Cold Mountain Penitentiary Death row, nicknamed “The Green Mile,” because of the color of the linoleum. It is his story about the transformative power one of his inmates, John Coffey, a 6 ft 8 inch powerfully built black man had on his life. Coffey had been convicted of raping and murdering two small white girls.
Throughout this story we watch as Paul comes to realize that John possesses gifts that defy his understanding. He cures Paul of a urinary tract infection. He cures the warden’s wife of an inoperable brain tumor. John also has the gift of seeing things. When touched by the man who had raped and murdered the young girls he saw the event. By the end of the story, we know that those healed by John gained an unnaturally long lifespan. He saw John’s ghost at the scene when he was holding his wife while she died.
This film is about giving us answers to questions, but in ways that are not documentable or explainable. We just know what we know. Paul comes to know what he knows about John even though he cannot explain why or how. John knows what he knows, but not because of reasons we can document or explain. This story sheds light and insight into the mysteries of life, those things that we cannot explain or make sense of.
They are what they are. Despite our efforts to understand and explain, there are somethings we just know. Paul knew that John was not a murderer, but it was not something he always knew. It was something he came to know through his interactions with him and his experience of him. How many things do we know in life because we just know them? What do you know because you just do, not because you can prove it, document it, or explain it. It is just something you know. Even though tonight is the last night of our focus on mystery as a spiritual practice, may we continue to be open to experiencing the mysteries of and in life.