As 1950 approached, Ms. Bergman’s personal life began to unravel. Her priority had always been acting, not commitment to her husband Dr. Lindstrom, a neurosurgeon, and to their daughter Pia. Her absences from them lasted for months at a time.
Ingrid Bergman’s desire to diversify her cinematic roles led her to Roberto Rossellini who was directing her first in Italy, “Stromboli.” During the film’s shooting, they began a scandalous affair. Notoriety followed. They sought to marry while they were both already married. Rossellini became the father of her three children, a boy and twin girls. Six years elapsed before Ms. Bergman returned to this country. She had been denounced in Hollywood and in Congress but not by the Catholic Legion of Decency. Her films were to be judged according to their artistic merit and not by her personal life, the Legion observed.
Ms. Bergman, always articulate, offered this statement to the press: “People saw me in ‘Joan of Arc’ and declared me a saint. I’m not. I’m just a woman, another human being.”
She felt boxed in by her controlling first husband, by the roles she played, and then by the greater control Rossellini exerted on her. After she divorced him, she married Lars Schmidt. Her children have narrated their own experiences.
More in The Way of Beauty
All this is a matter of record and not intended to cast judgment on Ingrid Bergman’s motives. She is ranked as one of Hollywood’s greatest film stars. The events of her life are here presented to express the dilemma all of us face despite differences of time or circumstance. And what is that? We walk not at the top of a fence, as in a game, but on a moral tightrope. There is conflict between the outer and inner person.
Lent is a good time to regain our precarious balance. It is a time to focus on God’s action in the ordinary details of life where balance is so difficult to achieve. “To destroy our taste for the ordinary is to interfere with the foundations of our life,” writes Ladislas Orsy, S.J. He explains: “We need much peaceful monotony to enjoy surprising happenings. At the time of monotony, the spirit of the inner man awakes. Not distracted, he can reflect on himself and on the outside world. The quiet rhythm of the ordinary is the best framework for thinking in depth. Great deeds and movements never originated in shallow thoughts; all giant trees have deep roots” (The Lord of Confusion, 38-9). Here is wisdom for balancing “The Great Game” we call our life.