In the beginning was the Word, or so it says. When I was an EFC (Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian), it was assumed that the Word we referring to Jesus. The literal interpretation of the Word in question was from the word logos meaning truth. It was a much simpler task to rely upon the idea of Jesus being the truth, and putting all of my cares upon a savior, and to this day I do not dispute the fact that Jesus was the truth made flesh. He embodied all that a man could be, and did things which no other man could.
However, the more difficult task of the spiritual aspirant, truly anyone who seeks truth, is to seek it in one’s own life. And the truth is that in order for any of us to truly become all that we are capable of, to embody all that we can be, to do things that no other man can do, including the people that we have historically been, we must come to the truth about our being.
What is the truth about me? I’m a fraud. I’m a charlatan. I’m half the man that I’m capable of being. Why? Because I often only deal in half truths.
Years ago, when I was compelled to take to the road and write my book The Rucksack Letters it was my hope and intention to rely upon what was supplied to me through the universe to travel the country. It was my intention to visit with people of other faiths and cultures. And it was my hope to use the lessons I learned on the road in order to teach others the path to a right relationship with God and our fellow men. In truth I did set out to do these things to help my world by becoming a leader.
It was my intention to lean upon my diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder to slide through these adventures, gain what I could, and come out on top with an altered perspective of the world around me. In truth, I breezed through most of them, picking up ideas, but not actualizing them into the person that I was. For in accepting all of these other lessons, it was also my intention to shirk what I had learned in the EFC church and to not be the Christian that I had become. And because I said no to that one aspect of myself, there has been a subconscious reverberation of cynicism to all of the phases through which I have progressed, and a reluctance to learn many of the lessons I have been offered.
For in denying the church and the man it helped me to become, I shirked off much of the good with the bad. I still don’t deny that the contemporary EFC church has a skewed view of the kingdom of which Jesus taught, however one of the tenets that was lost along the way was the attribute of integrity.
In truth, I have not always practiced integrity with what I have been given. For in my desire to be a leader and a teacher, I have succumbed to the foolish repartee of an egotistical male and failed to fully embrace my role as a servant and student. Though I have realized the merit of meditation, I do not regularly pursue awareness of breath. Though I have attested to the power of prayer, I rarely bend a knee. Though I’ve rallied for the health of the body, exercise is infrequent and diet is omnivorous.
Throughout my study, I have read many words by the late Joseph Campbell, who is perhaps best known by the quote “Follow Your Bliss.” Campbell was the man who has brought mythology to a new level in the human condition, revealing to us that from whichever culture we come, the symbolism of the myths we learned live in our hearts and must be actualized in order for us to become the heroes we are capable of being.
There is a great temptation, one that I have fallen prey to many times, to take the concept of Follow Your Bliss to mean that you should seek your own happiness. This limited interpretation of its meaning often leads many people, including myself, to delve into selfishness and seek out temporary happiness and momentary satisfaction. But there is much more to it than that, and in truth, I have not always lived up to it.
Building upon the Hero’s Journey, a step by step process developed by Campbell to describe the path of the mythological figure to heroism, I look to the first hero of my faith, Jesus Christ. For it was in this hero that many of us can fully realize that idea of self sacrifice and servitude as a true example of heroism. For with any hero, the ultimate boon of valor is helping others, and the greatest bliss we will feel is using the talents we have been given to reach that goal.
In offering up this veiled attempt at humility, it is not my intention to posture myself as a complete scalawag and hedonistic bastard. There have been people that I have helped, and I haven’t shirked my responsibilities as a servant completely. However, in truth, I can say that not all of my service has been with a happy heart and assuredly not blissful. From my own experience, the fruit of service with a begrudging attitude ripens to mealy at best, and though it may provide an instant of sustenance, it will taste sweet to no one.
Recently, I overheard one of the nurses at my hospital talk about the arrogance of a person who thinks they can help someone. She said a person was fortunate if they are able to help themselves. I thought about the house I lived in a few years ago and how I tried to use it to help addicts out of their ruts while struggling with my own addictions as well. From sheer experience, I can honestly say that it is impossible. And it would seem that perhaps sometimes the only way to help another person is to help yourself.
In truth, it is my hope to help myself and once again find my bliss. It is my intention to learn, my intention to grow, and my intention to serve. If my words can be used to teach along the way, if my own journey helps to lead another out on their own, if my existence helps to create a smile, even one that I may never see, perhaps that is all the hero I ever need to be.