Life and the journey, it’s always funny how we get from there to here, then over there, and always find ourselves back here! One of the ways I found you … or you found me … is on account of my penchant for conflict. I like conflict … it’s a Zen-thing! While some get anxious, concerned, nervous, fearful … I get calm! Always have – just the way I’m wired, I guess.
As a young man, I was angry at the world. I liked the subsequent adrenaline, the sense of time slowing and, in turn, I found I was grounded in the moment in a hyper-real way that allowed me to process in ways that were/are exciting. Then, at a certain point, I was introduced to a tool or a framework that allowed me to harness that calm, rather than be ruled or controlled by the anger. That tool was mediation.
Mediation, it’s got a lot of definitions, but for me being a mediator has always sort of been to act as a translator. In the role, I get to walk with those who are so angry, entrenched in disagreement that what they actually WANT to say is usually OVER-SHADOWED by invective and profanity that comes out of their mouth and gets lost … until I can help translate!
There’s been a lot of learnings since first working in the area at the age of 16, but what has become a mantra is that all of us, though particular to conflict, generally perceive ourselves as the hero in our own story. Everyone else is a character and when we get hurt, experience fear, are irritated or pissed off at someone else, well they obviously have to fit the other role: the bad guy, enemy, evil master … maybe you have another word?
And here’s the conundrum – well from a Christian perspective – the hero is not the role our Sacred Stories outline we are Called to be …
But, as it is Lent, I confess I really do not think Jesus fits the mold AT ALL WELL! Which … yes, I know … means some reflection might be required. Jesus walked through his choices – some might say heroically, though perhaps stalwartly might be more appropriate – without resorting to violence. And, let’s face it; violence is core to any hero, especially the ones with whom we identify the most intimately.
Instead, he faced the violence that was expected of him and rejected embracing it … and perhaps even more challenging to those of us who have inherited this hero framework, he knowing walked into others’ stories – narratives – and challenged them to do the same! Of course no one likes this re-write, especially those who benefit the most, so the re-write must be, quenched, and you know how they did that, right? Yep, violently … and of course that’s the other irritating thing, the hero is not supposed to die! Sure a lot our well-loved comic book characters have lives like a cat, like Superman. Don’t even get me started on Batman (this is the part where I footnote that the Resurrection is an entire blog unto itself …) … yet the CYCLE remains rooted in #@# BAM … WHAM … KAPLOW… WHACK … #$%
There are no easy ways to live into what Jesus’ ministry models. In a world well indoctrinated in might is right, we do our selves a disservice by not acknowledging how difficult it is to change in light of the hero myth. So, when we do begin to awaken, realise the tension as Disciples, it is not a question of whether we are doing enough right away, but whether we are endeavouring to make the changes we can now, so that we begin to step into Kingdom. And, as we do so, to be bolder, less heroic and more present to the suffering that being a hero causes to the other characters in the stories around us!