Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Call to Adventure

The word “adventure” can evoke a wide variety of feelings – excitement, nostalgia, longing, fear. It ties together stories told across geography, era and culture. The word itself is enough to make children’s eyes sparkle, to inspire them to create imaginary worlds and picture themselves as the heroes. Adults don’t always react so enthusiastically, though. Maybe the monotony of everyday life has stifled the longing for adventure, or maybe years of bitter experience have taught us that anything out of the ordinary is dangerous. We may begin to think of adventures as, to paraphrase Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, “nasty, unpleasant things that make you late for breakfast.”

But I think the longing for adventure is still there, buried in our hearts. It’s why we race to see movies like The Avengers, Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings. In one scene in The Hobbit, Bilbo goes running after Gandalf and the dwarves exclaiming, “I’m going on an adventure!” His reaction makes sense because we share the source of Bilbo’s excitement – a longing to do something heroic.

This desire is strong and real, but even in movies, it’s not all that drives heroes. Often heroes reluctantly agree to take a stand when great evil threatens their home or loved ones.

This may seem distant from our everyday experience – we don’t often encounter mad scientists or evil wizards bent on world domination. But the world is still full of evil, and as I learned last month it does threaten the things closest to us.

Last month, the approach of Christmas stirred up fond memories and longing for my home. In my homesickness, I was tempted to think of my home as an idyllic location like the Shire where we can live safely, far from stress, danger and evil. The Newtown massacre sent me into a tailspin of mourning, in part because it made me realize that senseless, radical evil isn’t distant – it can ravage even my home state.

Evil is all around us, but we can still fight it. We must fight with all the power we have, whether great or small, in every circumstance we find ourselves in. That means saying no to the evil that would engulf our own souls, and it also means reaching out and bringing what light we can into the darkness. 

For me, that meant passing a card around the office and sending it to Sandy Hook Elementary School. It means writing posts like this that I hope will be helpful and encouraging. It means looking for opportunities to help others and make their lives a little brighter. Every time we choose to do good instead of evil, to bless instead of cursing, to love or to forgive, we strike a blow against the darkness. And by engaging in the battle against evil, we can find the adventure our hearts crave.

Light, truth and goodness will win in the end, but until then, we have an opportunity to engage in this epic battle. By taking a stand against evil, we not only help others, but we also give ourselves the opportunity to become the heroes we were meant to be.

I’d like to close with a quote from Winston Churchill, a man far more articulate than me, who faced evil far more dangerous and powerful than I do.

Do not let us speak of darker days: let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days; these are great days—the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.

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