April 10, 2008 at 6:44 pm Leave a comment

Marking the fifth anniversary of the United States’ invasion of Iraq there was an uprising in a section of Baghdad. On the front page of today’s newspaper is a photo of three men, each carrying a limp, bleeding child in his arms, the oldest of which is perhaps 5 years old. Despite the invasion, the force of new life attempts to prevail in Iraq. Babies are born into the war, and young children are injured and die out of the war.

Stories of events in the world make it hard to go on. Sometimes they shame us, as we realize that our petty worries are just that in comparison to others’ grief and struggle. Children and other innocent, uninvolved people are being murdered in a war – not just one war. There are several different wars raging right now. Millions of people fleeing, living in tents, starting over with dim prospects. There are women giving birth in the ravages, with no idea of how they or their babies can possibly survive.

I wanted to write something today, but these thoughts and the vision of that photo in my memory make it extremely difficult to attend to my daily concerns about what to cook for lunch, whether or not I should vacuum, and if there’s an exciting revelation I want to write about.

At the same time, Hephaestus popped into my head. I had read about him a while ago and was fascinated by the account. He was Hera’s son, born ugly, a misfit, with his feet looking the wrong way. His parents rejected him, but rather than give up and nurture self-pity, he sought to create beauty. Perhaps it was his sublimated fury that enabled him to delve into the depths of the soul, to craft raw materials into exquisite works of art.

Hephaestus was the only god who actually worked. Beyond demonstrating that work is a noble thing, he encouraged mankind to excel in his applications. He is called the smith of the soul, as he redirected the energy of his unmet needs to create great things. He appeals to our higher selves and encourages us to use whatever is at our disposal, or even apply that which is lacking, to strive for harmony and transformation.

Although his mother tossed him off Mount Olymp, he found substitute mothers – Themis and Eurynome. Actually, they found him and nursed him to health. This story goes to show that we may not always have the best situation to start out, but we can get the help and love we need. It just may take a few twists and turns along the path.

What struck me first about Hephaestus was his name. By accepting a bit of an exaggeration in pronunciation, his name could be “he faced us.” For me, he indeed faced us all – whether adversary, friend or rival. He faced life and showed us how to work, told us not to give up, taught us to make use of the raw materials available.

He was the God of fire, the patron of craftsmen and smiths. He was also the patron of the crippled, dismembered, chipped and distorted – whether things or people, and he was the patron for those with broken hearts and dreams. As I stand at the table and study the picture of the bleeding bodies of those small children and the anguish on their fathers’ faces, my tears cannot help them. But I am encouraged to summon my strength and determination, as well as my creativity, to work harder to create beauty and love the best I can, and hope that it will spread like a wave and change something, promote hope and reconciliation.


Entry filed under: Soul Food. Tags: , , .

High Energy and Wishes Greetings from the Roller Coaster

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