“One seldom was able to do her a good turn without some thoughts of strangulation.”

The_Lady_in_the_Van_film_posterI rented “The Lady in the Van” to prepare for a sermon on loving your neighbor as yourself. It’s a wonderful picture. There are some good reviews: here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The film is about the relationship between Miss Shepherd, a bag lady who lives in a van, and the celebrated playwright Alan Bennett. The Telegraph offered this introduction to the film:

Bennett’s acquaintance with Miss Shepherd began with a typically thankless favour – she wanted her van moved down the street to a new berth, until someone’s music lessons irritated her enough to move on again, and again, before installing herself permanently in his off-street parking. Not once, for all the charity, baked goods and Christmas presents given her by Bennett and his well-heeled neighbours over the years, does she utter a single thank you, or even so much as a nod. Bennett sums her up as “bigoted, rank, rude”, but as he gets the measure of her, also comes to reflect on her “vagabond nobility”.

I was ready to nominate Bennett for sainthood for the kindness he showed the ungrateful woman who came to park in his driveway for a few days and stayed until she died 15 years later. If you would like to see the heart of what Jesus’ teaching in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is about you need go no further than observing the relationship between Miss Shepherd and Mr. Bennett. Highly recommended.