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The Hero: You

You are the hero in the Hero Story

 

The Iliad and The Odyssey, Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Idylls of the King. The hero story is one of the oldest of literary genres. It is the story of all of us. Each of us is the protagonist, the hero, of our own story. We are all called to be something greater than what we are. Created in God’s image, a little lower than the angels, responsible to steward the earth, we are designed to reflect the perfect love which is God. Instead, we tailgate and shop.

 

We are comfortable. We are settled into the familiar. We have our routines, jobs, family, friends, entertainment, hobbies. We may not feel we have enough stuff, but we certainly have enough God. We don’t necessarily want to grow up spiritually and reflect love perfectly. Doing so can get you crucified. It’s guaranteed to rock your world.

 

Blessed is the person whom God shakes up.

 

First comes departure. God loves us too much to leave us in a slough of familiar comfort. And God loves all the suffering people, choking marine life, and vanishing birds so much that God recruits us to be of help, to rescue, to restore.

 

I don’t know why it’s this way, but to become the bearer of grace I am created to be, I must suffer. I must leave the familiar. God never causes the suffering, but God certainly uses it for my good.

 

Most often, we won’t depart the ordinary and the enough without being forced out by some tragedy. For Dorothy, it was a tornado. Things happen that shake us loose from our moorings – death of a child or spouse, contentious divorce, financial reversal, severe illness or disability, mental illness, trauma. Tragedy disrupts us. We are thrust into the unknown. Our world is shaken. We question our religiophilosophical belief systems. Once stable ground turns to sand. We depart the familiar because we have to.

 

Blessed is the one forced to depart from the ordinary.

 

Encounter follows departure. We find ourselves in a psychological, emotional, and spiritual wilderness. Thrust from the familiar, we are confronted by something bigger than ourselves. We descend from status and security into confusion and disorder. Our fundamental belief systems deconstruct. Like mythological heroes, we face obstacles – hardship, devils, confusion, depression, disorientation, trauma. We come up against injustice, racism, homophobia, misogyny, greed, wars, poverty, dictators, and air pollution. Our long-clung-to answers and tidy theological boxes now make no sense. Like Jesus after his baptism, we are in the wilderness.

 

Jesus was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit and a lifetime of temptation began – tested in every point like us, but without sin. In the wilderness we call life, we bump up against obstacles, temptations, resistance, conflict, disorder.

 

When you’re confronted with what you don’t understand, fall back on what you do understand.

 

“Paradox is the only basket large enough to hold truth.” (Robert Farrar Capon)

 

When our neat tidy worlds crumble and our well-rehearsed belief systems no longer make sense, when departure leads to encounters with the unknown and confusion is the order of the day, elemental choices confront us.

 

One path is to surrender to chaos and, Nietzsche-like stare bravely into the abyss.

 

Another option involves distraction – fill the days with superfluous, mindless activity – the politics of anger, sports, television, expensive toys …

 

A third option is despair, hopelessness. Simply give up.

 

The hero’s path: face the darkness, slay the dragons, solve the riddles, overcome the adversity, and find your way home. However, when you get back home, when you deeply discover your true self, you will be different. Dorothy, Odysseus, Galahad, Frodo are on quests. They eventually get back home, but when they return home, they are transformed. They are different people.

 

Like the heroes, we need courage and guidance. Both come from without. Both come from within. Both come from God.

 

Do not fear the suffering.

Do not fear the journey.

Do not fear the departure from the safe and familiar, nor the dangers of the quest.

Do not fear the loss of tidy belief systems, or rejection by the self-righteous and religious.

 

Home.

Fully human.

Fully alive.

Universal connectedness.

Love God. Love self. Love all others (even enemies). Love nature and all creation.

Peace that supersedes rationality.

 

 



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