There is a movie called “Resurrection” I saw in 1980, and it has remained one of my favorites.
Ellen Burstyn plays Edna May, who buys a car for her husband, played by Jeffrey DeMunn. On their first drive together, he turns to thank her for the extraordinary gift, his eyes off the road, and they’re in a terrible accident. He is killed instantly, and she has a near-death experience, seeing those she loved who have gone before.
Edna May survives as a paraplegic, so she returns home with her father to be cared for. They stop at a “last chance” garage, where she meets eccentric old Esco played by Richard Farnsworth, who introduces her to his shaggy dog Clancy and to two-headed snake Gemini, and tells her that he dreams of visiting Machu Picchu. There is something mystical about this experience that moves Edna May in ways she can’t fully understand, and she finds a sense of peace in this place.
At a family picnic, a niece develops a sudden nosebleed, panicking the family because the little girl has hemophilia. Edna May calms the child, hugging and rocking her, stopping her bleeding. Realizing that she has healing powers, Edna May heals herself, and then begins to heal others in tent shows. She heals Cal, played by Sam Shepard, when he suffers a stab wound, and they become romantically involved.
Cal becomes disturbed by Edna May’s abilities, seeing her as the risen Christ, while she insists that she heals through warmth, understanding, and love, that this is a gift from God, that she is not herself divine. Cal cannot accept this, so attempts to assassinate her to complete the Christ cycle.
We do not see Edna May again for many years, and the movie takes us back to that desert garage.
A family stops for gas, a little boy in the backseat, head patchy and bald in spots, dark circles under his eyes.
Edna May greets the family, her hair now long and white, trailing a shaggy white puppy named Clancy the Third. She shows the little boy the two-headed snake, now pickled in a jar, next to a picture of Esco at Machu Picchu with the inscription, “I finally made it!”
The parents express their grief and dread of what is to come. (There is a wonderful laugh line when the Dad marvels at her plants still blooming in September and Eda May replies, “Id’nt that the darndest thing you ever saw?”)
Edna May suggests that the little boy keep the puppy, as they have become so attached. He says he doesn’t think he’ll be around to care for the dog, but she tells him not to worry about that.
Dad pays for the gas, and Edna May tells the little boy that he can pay her for the puppy with one big hug. She kneels down, they embrace, and we see Edna May, eyes closed, her smiling face turned toward the sun. They hold the hug for 10, 15 seconds as the theme of the movie rises.
When they pull away to look into one another’s eyes, the boy says, “Thank you,” and Edna May smiles back and says, “Thank you.”
I see Edna May as our founder Maryann Gray and The Hyacinth Fellowship as her healing hands on all of us, taking this terrible thing that happened to her and turning it into a way to help and heal others.