Ascending from the Flames
We are the hero in our own story. There are defining moments in our lives when we slay our own demons, come to the aid of those in need, or simply transform our lives from mundane to sublime. These hero stories have been retold around the fire in days of old, written about in novels, and enjoyed on the silver screen. These mythical moments happen every day. They are what make the journey that we call life both deeply meaningful and mysterious. They are common, they are rare, and they are sacred.
It is in the seemingly common moments that we forget to see humanness transcended. We mistakenly believe the story is about finding the prize, rather than the searching, as in the story of the Holy Grail. We forget that courage does not mean a lack of fear, but rather continuing on despite one’s terror, as Bilbo Baggins did. We forget that many times the hero first descends into hell before rising up out of the flames. This is one such story.
Many of you know the story of my brother Michael. He committed suicide at the age of 27. What you may not recall, is that he struggled with drugs and alcohol, mental health issues, gangs and violence. He himself was a victim of abuse. His early years were beyond challenging. Our mother was married four times, and several of her husbands were violent alcoholics. She died at the age of 59 of chronic lung disease after nine years of physical illness, and a lifetime of emotional unbalance. Michael was 21 years old at the time of her death. He never knew his birth father, and while this seems on the surface to be a sad piece of information, it may have been one of the few blessings he was granted during his short visit on this earth. The life-cards he was dealt were not the best. There was no royal flush, not even a pair. My sister drew from the same deck, and her hand was much the same. She, however, made better choices about which cards to discard, selected some new possibilities, and played with a steely determination that kept everyone guessing until the winning hand was played. This is the story of my youngest sister, Dawn.