Eventually I arrive on the little platform at the top. I strip off my track suit and am revealed in all my sequinned glory. I look out and down at the upturned eyes, sparkling brighter than my costume. Then the spotlight pins me, and I hear its mocking tones.
It says “and probably in the end you will fall away.”
And in my dream, I always listen politely and know it is true, and then I go out sparkling, flashing and dance on the void. That is the challenge, the moment of hope: to dance as near the edge of destruction as is possible, to be willing to fall and still not fall. And the audience cheers, because it is beautiful and because they know that this time I may indeed fall and because they know that that is precisely why it is beautiful, and I have made it beautiful."
...I wonder what it is you dream of, what calls to you in your dreams...
Joseph Campbell taught that such mythos are metaphors for human life. That they are eternal and universal tales that can teach us about our lives right here right now. He believed that by understanding these mysteries we can begin to understand who we truly are and what life is all about.
With this in mind I can find so much in the “Holy Week” narrative that does speak to me, but then again there is much in other traditions, both ancient, modern and post-modern that speak to me too. I am a Universalist in every sense of the word. That said “Holy Week” compels me to look more deeply at Jesus, his teachings as well has his passion and death and how that can bring meaning to my life and I hope lives of others.
Central to the story is this concept of love incarnating in human form. Now it seems clear that this occurred in the life of Jesus as it is told in the Gospels. My only argument with traditional Christian orthodoxy is the view that this occurred only in one form and at one point in human history. This I find impossible to accept. I only have to look at my life and I know I have experienced this love in the lives of so many other people. I believe that we all have the capacity to become channels of the divine in this life. We can all incarnate love in our very being. We can all become the light of the world. Sadly all too often we fail to do so; all too often we fall short and we betray one another. This aspect of our humanity becomes all too clear in the narrative of Holy week.
There is though something more that is universal about the “Palm Sunday” and “Holy Week” narrative, than this concept of universal love. It is not just a mythos about Jesus, it is also about the crowd and all the people around him. People just like you and me. Just like them we can all get caught up in the crowd mentality can we not? We can all identify with the crowd despite the world in which we live being very different today. We share a common humanity with them. We are all formed from the same breath of life, we all have the Divine spark within us; well at least I believe that we do. We are not God’s though, although we can become the light of the world if and when we live in love. We are fully human just like those folk on the side of the street waving their palms grateful for any reason to celebrate. People are always looking for something to celebrate, doesn’t seem to matter what this is. People looking for joy, looking for meaning, looking for a bliss to follow. People who just like us are prone to disappointment, who fail to live up to the very ideals they would like to strive for. People who fall short, get ill, and become bogged down in little and bigger things, finite human beings. People who are looking for hope, to lift them out of their suffering. People looking for someone or something to lead them to better things, to give them another chance to live better lives. People just like us who want to not only find, but also follow their bliss. People looking for a meaning to their lives.
When I think of the “Triumphant Entry”, The “Palm Sunday” narrative and the whole “Holy Week” Mythos, what I see clearly is an archetype of “Following your Bliss.”
Following our bliss is about saying yes to this call and beginning our own heroic journey. In doing so synchronicity will seemingly be abound and luck will follow. By following our bliss we seemingly become guided by something more than ourselves. This is what Campbell observed and it has certainly been my experience, at least for the last dozen or so years.
"Following your bliss" though is not an easy ride, quite the opposite actually. Yes there maybe moments of triumphal entry when all are for us and no one seems to be against us, but there will also be moments of suffering and betrayal when everyone and everything seems to be against us. As Campbell observed that like all heroic journeys there are tests and trials along the way. There are monsters and dragon to slay on the journey although most of these are the ones we carry with us. It is our fear of the adventure that is our greatest enemy. It is this that stops us taking the first vital step.
Here is a clip of Joseph Campbell talking with Bill Moyes about "Following You bliss"
This blogspot began with an extract from Sara Maitland’s “A Big-Enough God” where she recounts a reoccurring dream of hers in which she is a tightrope walker. I think that this is a beautiful example, in metaphorical form, of this sacred call to action to “follow your bliss”. She describes the dangers and the fears, the excitement and the applause and the anticipation of the baying crowd. In it she catches beautifully what I believe it means to “follow your bliss” and the reaction of others to us attempting to do so. She writes:
“Eventually I arrive on the little platform at the top. I strip off my track suit and am revealed in all my sequinned glory. I look out and down at the upturned eyes, sparkling brighter than my costume. Then the spotlight pins me, and I hear its mocking tones.
It says “and probably in the end you will fall away.”
And in my dream, I always listen politely and know it is true, and then I go out sparkling, flashing and dance on the void. That is the challenge, the moment of hope: to dance as near the edge of destruction as is possible, to be willing to fall and still not fall. And the audience cheers, because it is beautiful and because they know that this time I may indeed fall and because they know that that is precisely why it is beautiful, and I have made it beautiful.”
‘The wooden slats mutter to me all the way up. The rungs my right foot stands on say “If you are afraid of falling, you will fall,” and the rungs my left foot presses say “If you believe you cannot fall, you will fall.”’
This brings to mind a little bit of wisdom from one of my favourite writers, a man who is beautiful example of “following your bliss”. A man who’s wisdom has lived on beyond his physical life, John O’Donohue.
“THE SECRET SCRIPT”
"Though we know one another's names and recognize one another's faces, we never know what destiny shapes each life. The script of individual destiny is secret; it is hidden behind and beneath the sequence of happenings that is continually unfolding for us. Each life is a mystery that is never finally available to the mind's light or questions. That we are here is a huge affirmation; somehow life needed us and wanted us to be. To sense and trust this primeval acceptance can open a vast spring of trust within the heart. It can free us into a natural courage that casts out fear and opens up our lives to become voyages of discovery, creativity, and compassion. No threshold need be a threat, but rather an invitation and a promise. Whatever comes, the great sacrament of life will remain faithful to us, blessing us always with visible signs of invisible grace. We merely need to trust."
So as we stand on threshold of Easter, on the threshold of spring on the days of new beginnings. Let us do so in trust; let us trust in life. That despite the many struggles, sorrows and grief’s, that despite the suffering present daily in life we can know love, beauty and deep meaning if we would but only find the courage to be and “follow our bliss”
This blogspot began with some wisdom for Sara Maitland and it will end with this beautiful poem by Mary Oliver
“The Journey” by Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognised as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.