With the knowledge that much of the world is celebrating a well known hero and his resurrection story today, I’m taking time to reflect upon the ways that we can apply the story to our lives, even if we don’t spend time in a church pew or singing holy hymns.
In Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s with a Thousand Faces” we learn that over the relatively short span of our existence, we humans have been really good at consistently telling the same story over and over and over again: We are born, we face trials, we die and go through hell, we are resurrected. Campbell says the archetypal steps of the story line give us inspiration for our own trials and tribulations: Who doesn’t go through hell when a loved one is lost? Who isn’t faced with guilt or shame when a divorce occurs? How many of us come face to face with our dark selves in the caves of awareness and must wrestle our own demons there in order to escape?
Life is suffering. “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something.” Yet the human spirit is amazingly resilient and repeatedly has shown strength in the face of great adversity. This is the miracle we can celebrate today – that we come out on the other side of our descent into hell. We triumph over grief, we become better partners in our next relationship, we figure out ways to accept and then overcome our weaknesses. We resurrect ourselves, consistently and perpetually .
We echo this sentiment in our cultural story telling. Our heroes endure isolation and hellish torture, overcome their adversaries, and are ultimately stronger than before. They provide inspiration to us as we go about our daily lives so that when we do endure suffering, we can have hope in the fact that if our heroes have made it out alive and more powerful, then so can we.
So even if we aren’t subscribed to the religion celebrating the hero story of the day, we can still reflect on our propensity as humans to muddle through whatever hell life might throw at us, and our ability to resurrect ourselves to live once more. We can also be grateful for the strength and resiliency inherent in our spirits to do so.