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Magic Flight


Following the "Refusal to Return" in the Hero's Journey is the stage called "Magic Flight" or "Crossing the Return Threshold".  Previously the hero completed their mission and then refused to return home.  In this stage, the hero sets aside their refusal and makes a mad dash or escape, often with the remaining enemies chasing them.  

In the Lord of the Rings after Frodo destroyed the ring he was so exhausted that he laid down to die, but the story didn't end there.  Sam helped him out of the cavern and the two of them collapsed on a rock that was quickly surrounded by lava from the erupting Mount Doom.  With no escape in sight, they sat there, seeming to accept their fate.  Sam started talking about home and the hopes and wishes he had for his life.  They embrace each other and express gratitude for being in this together and then the camera goes black.  When the camera comes back into focus they are both passed out on that same rock, but we see something coming on the horizon.  Gandalf rides atop a great eagle with two more behind him.  They swoop in and pick up the two hobbits as we see the world behind them explode and erupt.  This is the magic flight.  

In the Exodus story, we are told that Moses secured the freedom of the Israelites.  After several devastating plagues struck the Egyptians, Pharoah finally told Moses to take his people and leave.  Several miles down the road the Israelites hit a dead end in front of a river. They heard the hooves of warhorses and the marching of feet behind them.  Pharoah had gathered his army and intended to destroy the Israelites.  The Israelites had acquired the "ultimate boon" in the form of their freedom, but now they were being chased and their lives were at risk.  Moses stood before the river and parted the water, allowing passage for the Israelites, but collapsing on the Egyptians when they tried to cross.  This was their magic flight. 

We often focus on a goal and use all of our energy up in the pursuit of that goal.  Like the Israelites we acquire the "ultimate boon" but then we find ourselves in a situation where we cannot enjoy what we have earned.  Instead, we find ourselves in a situation that requires something more from us when we have nothing left to give.  Once we identify that pattern we may try to give less of ourselves, to hold back a little, to "wait for the other shoe to drop".  However, we will often discover that the "ultimate boon" cannot be acquired without all of your efforts.  So what are we to do?  We must realize that this state of need and vulnerability is part of the journey.  We must relax into it, accept it.  We must accept that we need help from the outside, but we will talk more about that next week when we look at "The rescue from without".  

God, give us the strength to give all of ourselves in pursuit of the quest you have put before us.  Help us to hold nothing back and yet to be comfortable with the vulnerability of that.  Give us peace when the world seems to be collapsing around us.  Hear our cries and send help from the outside quickly.


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