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Freedom to Live


Freedom to Live is the final stage in the Hero's Journey.  Campbell said that this was the stage where the hero "finds balance between internal and external worlds and no longer fears death."  This is the stage where the hero stops doing things and fighting challenges and instead just exists.  Applied to our life it is the calm before the cycle starts again. 

In Star Wars this was the stage after Luke created the school for Jedi and he began to live out a daily routine.  Eventually, he had a conflict with his nephew and a new journey began for him.  In the Lord of the Rings, this is the stage after the hobbits have taken over leadership roles, and they get to enjoy their day-to-day routines.  

This stage serves as a reminder that we are human "beings" not human doings.  We cannot always be on a journey or the road becomes our home and the call to adventure may become a call to domestication, which is its own adventure.  

Many of our images of heaven are symbols that point to this need for rest and routine.  While we are on a journey we long for the rest at the end, but while we are resting we will eventually yearn for the adventure again.  Bilbo Baggins found this to be true after he finished his book and decided to go with the elves over the great sea.  

I was once teaching a class on heaven and I pointed to something in the scriptures that indicated we will each have a job in heaven, something that will fill us with meaning and joy.  I was surprised by the raw emotion of someone in the class.  They sobbed and could not be consoled.  When they finally calmed down enough they expressed how difficult their journey at work had been. They explained how the image of heaven I had painted caused them to lose hope in ever finding rest, because that was the great hope of heaven for them.  At the time I conceded that for them, maybe heaven would be a place of only rest.  After gaining a few more experiences myself I would now add that a time of rest would be sufficient for their needs, but that they would eventually become restless and the call to adventure would come again.  Eternity will include adventure or it would not be heaven.  It's been many years, but I hope this person found the rest they needed on this side of heaven.  

God, help us to rest when it is our time to rest.  Help us to adventure when it is our time to adventure.  Help us to practice human "being" and not always just human "doing".  Amen.


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