S (Scripture): Psalm 73:
Meanwhile, I’ve kept my heart pure for no good reason;
I’ve washed my hands to stay innocent for nothing.
I’m weighed down all day long.
I’m punished every morning.
If I said, “I will talk about all this,”
I would have been unfaithful to your children.
But when I tried to understand these things,
it just seemed like hard work
until I entered God’s sanctuary
and understood what would happen to the wicked.
You will definitely put them on a slippery path;
you will make them fall into ruin!
How quickly they are devastated,
utterly destroyed by terrors!
As quickly as a dream departs from someone waking up, my Lord,
when you are stirred up, you make them disappear.
O (Observation): The psalmist writes this psalm as from an individual’s perspective. It was common for the early readers of these texts to understand the “I” as a “collective ‘I’.” As in “we all know / can relate to what you are saying.”
These verses take the reader on a journey of sorts from the world as it is, to the world as it can / should be as a follower of God.
The psalmist is expressing displeasure at the fact that they are getting a raw deal: they’ve tried to live as God wants them to live, but things aren’t going their way…the wicked seem to be winning. And the harder they try to make sense of things, the more difficult the challenge is to live God’s ways.
But the journey is not over.
The psalmist enters God’s sanctuary and it dawns on them: the wicked will be dealt with by God! The psalmist need not worry! In the emptying of the psalmist’s self, God fills the void! In this moment is a death and resurrection.
This rebirth causes the psalmist to live life with a new orientation: God will devastate the terrors and the wicked. Whether those terrors are people or evil or discouraging thoughts…God will deal with them! I need not worry!
And I am changed! Thanks be to God! Now, time to get back at it.
In his first book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell identified a thematic process of personal and communal transformation that permeated all of these stories that he called ‘The Hero’s Journey.’ He described it this way:
“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder (where) fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”
More than anything, the Hero’s Journey is about growth and passage. The journey requires a separation from the comfortable, known world, and an initiation into a new level of awareness, skill, and responsibility, and then a return home. Each stage of the journey must be passed successfully if the initiate is to become a Hero. To turn back at any stage is to reject the need to grow and mature.
You and I are the heroes in our own journeys. We are not the ones who cause the change in ourselves, but we do change. Our God leads us through the changes, accompanies us through death and rebirth of our lives, and God sends us back into the world with a new set of eyes…a new orientation. Much like the journey of today’s psalmist.
We are the heroes. We are changed. We live in hope.
P (Prayer): Lord, carry us through the journey of life! Change us! Make us not afraid! Make us people of hope! Amen.