Desire of the Everlasting Hills is a documentary about homosexuality … but it’s really not. It’s really a documentary of three people’s testimonies of finding faith in God again. Rilene, Dan and Paul have all joined the Catholic Church and committed to lives of chastity. Though their sexual pasts are what connect their testimonies, their stories are about so much more than that. These are three stories of three people whose lives have gone from darkness into light, the same way my life did when I found Jesus, or He found me.
The documentary opens with these words from Pope Benedict XVI: “Look at the face of the other… discover that he has a soul, a history and a life, that he is a person and that God loves this person.” The Pope spoke these words in January 2010 in reference to how Italians should treat immigrants to their country, but it is aptly used here, to open this film. This is what the film challenges its viewers with — look and see. In a world where so many people from every “camp” can only see an issue, this film challenges us to see a person. And it shows us three authentic, honest, beautiful people.
One of the three, Rilene, opens her story by saying, “For me, this is my journey. Nobody else is going to have the identical experience. And so you can choose to believe or not believe that my experiences are true and valid. That’s OK. I just ask you to keep an open mind and consider that it might be possible that this is a genuine, authentic experience, and that it’s possible for more than just me.”
This film doesn’t make a political statement. It doesn’t make a theological statement. It doesn’t make a statement about homosexuality at all. It simply shares the stories of how three people found God, or how He found them. What is so beautiful about it is not only that it allows us to really see a person behind the issue, but that as I watched, it didn’t feel any different to me than any other believer giving his/her testimony. With any of us, with all of us, the details may be different, but the story is universal. All of their thoughts, emotions, fears, doubts and struggles resonated with me as part of the universal human experience, part of my experience.
Rilene says, “I think that we all have a deep, deep need for love, and we find that where it seems to fit most.”
When talking about the feelings of guilt he had when he first went to confession, Paul says, “I’m not talking about a guilt because of my sexuality, because of my homosexuality, I’m just talking about what my lifestyle led me to be. My self-centered way. All about me, taking care of me.” ‘
Dan says, “I think loneliness is the most desolate state that a human person can have. Loneliness is not a state of your physical isolation. Loneliness is a feeling that no matter where you are, nobody knows who you are.”
A desperate desire for love. Self-centeredness. Loneliness. Sound familiar? It’s the heart behind all of our stories.
Look and see. This is a person. A person with a soul, with a history, with a life – one not that different from yours. God loves this person, just as He loves you. God has saved this person, just as He has saved you. This person has committed to follow Jesus, but still struggles with sin, just as you do.
All of our churches are wrestling with how to love those who struggle with homosexuality. Desire of the Everlasting Hills is a great place to start. Rilene, Dan, Paul … God loves these people. When you hear their stories, you will too.
May this film inspire in us a desire to look and see and love others. All others. To really hear their stories. To know them, connect with them, and be humbled by them. To see them as God sees them and see ourselves as He sees us. To share our stories with them, as one sinner to another, one person to another. To minister to them and allow them to minister to us. To look and see and love all the world.
You can view the entire hour-long film here: everlastinghills.org. Desire of the Everlasting Hills was made by Courage, an international apostolate of the Catholic Church which ministers to people with same sex attractions. Courage’s goal is chastity, not changing a person’s sexual orientation. You can read more about Courage here: couragerc.org
Kathy Larson is the director of Christian Education and Creative Arts at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C.