Bedford Falls is the fictional, idyllic town that the beloved Christmas movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, is set in. The Frank Capra–directed movie features actor James Stewart as George Bailey, a “poor” everyman constantly challenged by life’s unforeseen circumstances.
We in the North Bay, like Mr. Bailey, have faced life’s slings and arrows in the last few years; political turmoil, floods, fires and now a pandemic. We all carry these traumatic events within us, and have suffered the ongoing physical and psychological wounds that accompany such stressful situations.
Mr. Bailey, distraught, without hope and “wishing” he was never born, contemplates suicide while standing on a bridge. Fate now enters the story, in the guise of an elderly angel, Clarence Odbody, who George sees “drowning” in the waters below. Diving in to save him (and himself), he will learn the lessons of what it really means to have his “wish” granted as his hero’s journey begins.
In conversations with the townspeople, family and friends he has known all his life, George is now a stranger, because he was never born, right? The past events he took as personal history also have now never occurred. Finally, with his guardian angel’s wisdom and words, he awakens and embraces the impact he has had on others and is able to acknowledge he has had and still has a wonderful life!
It is appropriate at this time of the year—and especially this year—we remember who and where we are in our own personal lives in response to what life throws at us. Yes, we surely must grieve our losses, but we can also rejoice and look around with gratitude at what we still have; and to know that this too shall pass—that we can find our own personal angels, to lift us up.
We only have to awaken and realize that Bedford Falls is still within each of us—it is a state of mind, if we take the time to look.