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Wildflower: A Love Letter

Stop what you are doing and watch this short film, Wildflower. It’s 25 minutes long, but believe me, you won’t be able to stop watching it, unless you have a heart of stone. It’s a marriage proposal that a young Baton Rouge filmmaker named Max Zoghbi made for his girlfriend Bonnie Kate Pourciau. You might have heard of her:

She finished early with home school requirements for finishing high school, freeing her up to travel to Haiti to do relief work with children. But the trip to the impoverished Caribbean country was cut short about seven weeks later when the 18-year-old developed gastroparesis, a debilitating ailment that makes it hard to keep food down. After many doctor visits came a once-in-a-lifetime road trip with her best friend, Elizabeth Sumrall, who was moving from Seattle back home to Baton Rouge. They stopped at sites like Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore. Pourciau loves wildlife and flowers, and the trip included lots of both. She was ecstatic.

The detour to the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., happened on a whim. When they were checking into their hotel for the night, the clerk mentioned she had tickets for a screening of The Dark Knight Rises that was within walking distance. The friends decided to go.

When the shooting began, the two friends crouched under their seats. Pourciau called on the God that she has come to know well over the years through prayer and a strong faith. She prayed even harder when she felt a whack in one leg and some stinging in the other. God answered her, she says.

“He just filled me with a peace that I don’t even know how to explain or tell you. He just wrapped his arms around me like a huge comforter,” Pourciau says. “I’ve felt God’s presence before and God’s peace, but I’ve never felt anything like that before.”

A bullet had destroyed her left knee. But watch the video to see what happened next.

I’m a sap for this kind of romantic thing, but boy, was that great. Max Zoghbi is a marvelous filmmaker, and his Wildflower is bursting with joy and life. These people are observant Christians, you learn in the film (but not in a pushy or cheesy way), and their faith is everything to them. I kept waiting for the false or manipulative note in the film, but it never came. The part that really got to me was his willingness to wait, and the hope that shines through this little valentine like shook foil.

Knowing that there are people like these crazy kids in the world gives me hope for my children and their future. Showing true goodness on film is difficult. I find that watching evil or sadness or tragedy on film doesn’t move me to tears; watching goodness does. This is not Oscar bait; it’s a 25-minute movie a guy made about how and why he fell in love with a girl, and how he asked her to marry him. But it is magical, and I couldn’t believe how emotional it made me at times.

Understand that Wildflower is not a preachy short film at all. At all. There is no altar call or anything like it. Max Zoghbi just says briefly at the end that he and Bonnie Kate love because God first loved them, and he says that God can bring good out of horrible things, if we stay faithful and love. That’s pretty much the only overtly religious message in the nonfiction movie. But the short film is a thoroughly Christian work. Serious point here: this sweet, romantic, heart-on-its-sleeve little film, and the people in it, will do more to illuminate the Christian life, and true, deep goodness and joy, than 10,000 sermons, or any big-budget explicitly Christian pop culture artifact.

When Pope Benedict XVI said that the best arguments for the faith are the saints and the art that it produces, this tiny love letter from a guy to his girl is what he was talking about. I cannot wait to see what Max Zoghbi does next with his camera.

UPDATE: Drew, from the comments:

So I had my reaction to the film. Just to make sure I wasn’t nuts, I watched it again with my wife and waited for her reaction…. She, to say the least, was a little creeped out. Her assessment: “No woman should have to bear the weight of such an obsession.”

I think that’s a completely valid reaction. Had Bonnie Kate not been receptive to his attention, even when she was not interested in a relationship with him, it would have seemed stalkerish. Still, I’m a Lloyd Dobler type, so I relate to the movie.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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