Five years ago, I got a call from Bono to make a movie with him … starring Willie Nelson! How do you say “no” to that? We’ve been working and waiting, and now the miracle has come.
Waiting for the Miracle to Come releases on Willie’s 86th birthday, April 29. It is a thoughtful reflection on the meaning of life and what we discover to be truly important. Bono is an executive producer of the film, along with the esteemed German filmmaker Wim Wenders. The film also stars the legendary Charlotte Rampling and indie singer/actress Sophie Lowe.
Miracle is written and directed by Lian Lunson, who has worked with U2 over the years, and who produced a remarkable documentary on Willie. It was during this previous filming when she was inspired to develop a narrative film as a vehicle to showcase Willie’s remarkable acting talent. Although the film is not autobiographical, it is similar to Johnny Cash’s video for Hurt, a contemplation on past regrets, misplaced trophies, and eternal hope.
We all were struck the first time we watched the painful poignancy of Cash’s interpretation of the Nine Inch Nails’ song “Hurt” turning its lyrics about heroin addiction into a Biblical lament of seeking the wrong treasures in life. In a similar vein, Waiting for The Miracle to Come is based on a song by the musical prophet Leonard Cohen, about whom Lian also produced a documentary. Cohen’s song is interpreted as the story of aging vaudeville performers, hoping and praying to find a lost treasure before their life’s end:
Baby, I’ve been waiting,
I’ve been waiting night and day
I didn’t see the time,
I waited half my life away
There were lots of invitations
And I know you sent me some
But I was waiting
For the miracle, for the miracle to come.
Cohen, a legendary songwriter popularly known for Alleluia, passed away last year. In his final album, he wrestled with God, knowing it was his last set of lyrics to release. In the title song “You Want It Darker,” Cohen growls:
If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker, We kill the flame.
As a movie, Waiting for the Miracle to Come is hopeful. It echo’s U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I Am Looking For,” which is not despondent about death, but rather anticipating something redemptive — the final Shalom. The film is a reminder that life is inevitably messy, and as we near the end we will have longings unmet. Willie does find his miracle, although, perhaps not in the way he expected. Like “Hurt,” there is a cathartic close that reminds us healing comes when we realize our hopes and desires can’t be fully met on this side of eternity.
Johnny Cash’s “Hurt,” Leonard Cohen’s “Darker,” and now Willie Nelson’s Miracle … great men of music and art, legends offering final and quite vulnerable visions of aging, regrets, death, God and hope in the afterlife. These are important meditations, and ones that can shape our own “now and next”, reprioritizing our decisions before they become regrets.
These late-in-life reflections are remarkable gifts, as we all share in their wrestling. Perhaps most importantly, they can be a light that helps guide us through the valley of death. As Cohen concludes in “You Want It Darker”:
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker
I’m ready, my lord.
Waiting for the Miracle to Come will be available on Amazon and Google Play starting April 29th.