Jane Fonda has to be one of the most polarizing people of her generation. Those who are old enough can recall her movie career and can remember her in some roles that were pretty good, and some that were not so good.
But others will remember her more serious, real-life role as so-called “Hanoi Jane,” when she supported the North Vietnamese Communist regime during the Vietnam War. Many, in fact, have never forgiven her for sitting atop that North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun, nor will they forget. She herself now calls this an “unforgivable mistake.” And she has apologized profusely for it many, many times.
Well, her story gets even more complicated. Several years ago, Jane felt an emptiness in her life and began to be drawn to the Christian faith, even though her husband, CNN mogul—and atheist—Ted Turner, had said, “religion is for losers.” She began reading the Gospel of John and was experiencing what she called reverence and grace. Sadly, it seems, Jane drifted away from what I would humbly call “mere Christianity,” partly, she said, because she thought what she was learning in a Bible study was too “patriarchal.”
Well, fast forward to 2014. Jane, who is now 76, is no longer the Hollywood vamp, and her radicalism has certainly been tempered by time. Only Jane and the Lord know where she is on matters of faith, but it seems clear that she is at least still searching.
In a recent blog post she simply calls “Crying,” Jane confesses that she’s been brought to tears repeatedly in recent months.
“How come,” she asks, “pretty things, kind deeds, sad stories, acts of courage, good news, someone’s [flash] of insight, all get me crying or, at least, tearing up?” Her answer may surprise you. “I find my emotions are way more accessible than they were when I was younger and I’ve come to feel it has to do with age,” Jane says. “I have become so wonderfully, terribly aware of time, of how little of it I have left; how much of it is behind me, and everything becomes so precious.”
Whatever you think of Jane Fonda, these moving words are a powerful reminder of our shared humanity, our longing, and our mortality. I can’t help but think of the words from Moses in Psalm 90:
The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away… So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
By God’s grace, Jane Fonda words help remind us to number our days. As she numbers hers, she has become increasingly grateful for God’s gifts in her life, whether she fully recognizes their Source or not. “With age,” she says, “I am able to appreciate the beauty in small things more than when I was younger perhaps because I pay attention more. I feel myself becoming part of everything, as if I bleed into other people’s joy and pain. . . .there’s the reality that in a few decades (if I’m lucky) I will be in the earth, fertilizing some of the very things I look at now and tear up over.”
I pray that this woman of such talent and insight would reach out to the One who Himself wept over and voluntarily drank the bitter cup of death … for her, for you, and for me!
The beauty Jane Fonda is now seeing—beauty we see in creation, in the womb of an expectant mother, in the kindnesses we receive and give—should bring us all to tears, especially if we see them in light of God’s love for us and for His creation, if we see that every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father of heavenly lights (James 1:17).
May we be His lights in this dark world, gently wiping tears from the eyes of hurting and searching people everywhere—in Hollywood, or right next door.
Metaxas is currently the voice of Breakpoint, a radio commentary (www.breakpoint.org) that is broadcast on 400 stations with an audience of eight million.
Copyright© 2014 Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with permission. BreakPoint is a ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries.