As I mentioned the other day, I went with nine of the girls from Towson to see the "Twilight" premier last Thursday night/Friday morning. It stems back to my referring to the book in my homily a few weeks ago. They got excited for me to go with them, and I accepted the invitation. Now, I have not read the books - I will admit that. I tried over the summer and found that I did not have the estrogen to last the 400 or so pages. The movie, I commented to others, was not written for me. My personal take on the film was that I expect vampire movies to be a little smarter than this one is. However, that does not mean that there is nothing to gain by seeing it.
The main character, Bella, falls in love with a vampire named Edward, who, while he appears to be only 17 years old, is actually 108. Edward, in his turn, also finds himself falling for Bella. However, as a vampire - even as a "good" vampire (he and his family only drink animal blood) - he is powerfully drawn by his desires and instincts to bite Bella ("Your scent is like a drug to me," he tells her). Despite this obvious danger to their relationship, they continue to see each other, and Edward continues to struggle and resist his urges.
There is a scene where they are in Bella's room, and they decide that they are going to start making out. Not a bad thing - although they get pretty into it. I told one of the girls with me that they are not "leaving room for the Holy Spirit"! Before things get out of hand, Edward withdraws from Bella - rather dramatically. ("See?" I commented to my neighbor. "That's the Holy Spirit helping!") There is an obvious desire to go farther, but Edward resists so he does not hurt Bella - even when Bella wants him to. She wants him to bite her and make her what he is. She wants to spend eternity with him. But it is a selfish, possessive love that Bella wants. It still needs to be purified so that she can understand what that love really means. It doesn't mean that her love is not real; it only means that she has farther to go, personally. Edward asks her, "Isn't a long, happy life with me enough?"
It's an easy metaphor for our young people who find themselves driven by their natural desires to "go farther" with their boyfriends and girlfriends. However, true love (like Edward feels) calls us to restrain - for the sake of the other. This is not easy, and that pain of the struggle is evident in Edward and Bella's relationship. But, there is also the sense - the very real sense - that the struggle, that restraint, is worth it. I know from what I hear of the books that it is worth it, and it will pay off for this couple. It pays off for us too. When we choose to save ourselves for "the one," that struggle is not only worth it for us but for that "one" as well. I am glad to see this aspect of suffering played out in this film and these books. It is a lesson in true love.
Some say "love bites." But true love waits - then, maybe, it can taste fully of what love really is.