Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lessons from the dragon

I watched Eragon for the first time since I saw it in the theater. Although (pardon the opining) not as good as Narnia and certainly not even close to Lord of the Rings (nothing ever will be), the movie was definitely quite enjoyable.

Several things challenged my thoughts. In particular this quote from the movie:

"To have courage there must be fear."

I have been contemplating the hope that gives to us all.

We struggle against so much, internally and externally. Life continually barrages us with difficulties and trials. The spiritual war we face seems incredibly daunting.

Throughout it all we face our own fear, our inner thoughts of failure and fatigue.

And then comes the lie; one of the most cunning lies ever faced; the lie that if we were truly brave, truly courageous, we wouldn't have such thoughts of fear. We wouldn't want to retreat and give in. We wouldn't have every ounce of our being screaming at us to stop, give up, and go home. The thought that the difference between us and the true heroes is those heroes never faced the same self doubt we do; that they simply and automatically were brave. This lie compounds our feelings of failure and inadequacy.

But here's the trick. How can that be called courage? Can courage really EVER come without fear? A man who walks into hardship, whether physical or spiritual, should fear the path he treads. He would be a fool not to. We are not masochist, hurting ourselves for our mere pleasure. When we hurt, IT HURTS; and we don't like it.

And neither should we like it. A man who rushes headlong into his own pain for his enjoyment is not, if ever that man existed, to be considered brave. Foolhardy would be a more apt title than courage for one such as he. He does not do painful deeds of sacrifice for the benefit of others but for the benefit of himself.

How can that be courage? How can a selfish act of hedonism, if not masochism, ever be on equal terms with the truly brave actions of a soldier, a mother, a friend, a knight, a hero? If the great heroes of old had no fear, then they had no courage; just as we, without fear, could not be called courageous.

When we continue on despite our own internal misgivings, those misgiving do not prove we have no courage; in fact, quite the opposite. Without those misgivings we could not be called courageous at all.

To be courageous we must have fear, and we must overcome that fear. Our desire to do right, no matter what the personal sacrifice, must win over our desire to avoid our own pain and suffering.

Isn't that what Christ did for us?

What lesson did he teach us if not personal abandonment for the sake of the truth, for the sake of others, for the sake of Him?

This must be our commitment: to keep going no matter how badly we wish to give up, no matter how long we must endure, no matter how great the trial.

Courage can come from anyone of us. Greatness can come from the least likely of sources. Even the foolish can confound the wise, if only we can hang onto God and keep doing right despite the agonizing injuries we must face along the way.

All will be right in the end. There will be rest and peace.

For now...we must fight.

"Vivere miltare est. Fac fortia et patere." (To live is to fight. Do brave deeds and endure)

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