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Journey to the World Navel



"He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control." - Philippians 3:21

In Joseph Campbell's work, there is a lesser-known section of the Hero's Journey called the Cosmogonic Cycle.  This is the spiritual aspect of a Hero's Journey, the place where their vision is enlarged and mysteries are revealed.  The first step in the Cosmogonic Cycle is called "The Journey to the World Navel".  This is where the hero journeys to the center of the world, or sometimes the center of themselves.  They explore the depths of something and learn something mystical, changing their perspective forever.  

In The Lord of the Rings, the fellowship travels into the depths of the Mines of Moria.  They travel deep down into the center of the earth, the World Navel.  While there they learn the fate of the dwarves who dug too deep and uncovered something that destroyed them.  In the process of traveling the depths, they got the attention of the orcs who lived there and Frodo is injured in battle.   The noise from the battle only brought more orcs, so they ran, but the battle roar of the orcs woke the beast, the Barlog, that had destroyed the dwarves.  The Barlog confronted them on the bridge leading to the exit, and Gandalf sacrificed himself so that they could run away.  Gandalf fell into the depths of the mines but later he is brought back as Gandalf the White, with a much wider perspective of who he was and what his mission was.  None of the fellowship members are ever the same after that, but the one who traveled deepest was changed the most.  

I hope you can see the analogy in this to the depths within our own minds.  Many people are scared of what might lurk within the depths of themselves.  They have heard rumors of those who were destroyed by the search, like the dwarves who dug too deep.  When they first start poking around within, they are overwhelmed like the fellowship was overwhelmed by the army of orcs.  However, those who go deep enough will learn something about themselves that will change them forever.  Their perspective is widened and they return to the world with unusual power.  

Jesus made this journey into the depths while in the tomb for three days.  Some traditions even say that Jesus ministered to the dead and defeated Satan during those three days.  In fact, Jesus explained that the "strong man" would need to be bound in order to plunder his house (Matthew 12:29). Then, after Jesus' resurrection, many of the Saints who had fallen asleep were seen walking among the living again too (Matthew 27:52-53).  It seems that Jesus may have indeed plundered the strong man's house.  Either way, we know that Jesus went into the depths of that tomb, into death, the deepest World Navel ever, and yet He returned and told us that we could too.  

God, give us faith to explore our depths, both internally and externally.  Give us the courage to go where we are afraid.  Help us to have faith when the "orcs" seem overwhelming.  Help us to plunder the depths for the gifts you have waiting for us there.  May we look forward to the new self that you have prepared on the other side of our deepest journey.  Amen.  

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