The narrative that guides my life can be summed up in referencing the story of the search for the Holy Grail. This may seem like a big story to throw out there at you as my life’s narrative, or it may seem overly cheesy, but I’d like to explain.
The Grail legend is a fascinating narrative, and wherever I go to talk about, I find that it resonates as vividly with people today as it has for centuries. I’d say that gives it a bit of staying power. What is so interesting about the Grail legend is that it combine the Christian narrative of searching for the cup from which Christ drank with elements of fairy tale narratives. There are castles and quests, secret questions and more, but all with the goal of finding out whom the Grail serves. The knightly virtues of courtesy, service, and sacrifice are medieval versions illustrating the role of the Christ as servant leader.
As mentioned in a previous post of this blog, the “good,” as defined in the study of communication ethics, that I personally protect is that of love for all people.The Grail legend supports this. I’ll have to let you read the Grail legend for yourself (though I may write about it in future posts), but the jist of its narrative that guides my life and affects decisions I make I can describe briefly in this post.
Perceval is the son of a king who dies in battle. He is raised by his mother in a tower, in ignorance of his true identity. He is sheltered and naive. One day, sent on an errand, he across a knight in shining armor (no triteness intended) and thinks him to be an angel. A few day later, he sees a group of them. He approaches the group in his naïveté and they help him by educating him and escorting him to King Arthur. He is noticed by King Arthur, who protects the “good” of peace in the land equality for all via the metaphor of his Round Table. To prove himself worthy of his greatest desire, which is to serve as one of Arthur’s knights, Perceval accepts a mission from the High King to seek the Grail.
What we learn in the story is that there is an old, wounded king residing in the Grail Castle, a location very difficult to find. The old king represents a life of the human condition of suffering and Perceval, in his naïveté, represents the seeker in all of us. Perceval must look for the roots of suffering and seek wholeness. He has learned on his journey that if he is fortunate enough to discover the Grail Castle, he is to ask the question, “Whom does the Grail serve?”
While in the Grail Castle, he is witness to a Grail Procession, where one learns that the Grail, a metaphor for the True Self, the whole, healthy, complete Self, is accessible all the time, in all places, if one only asks for it to be revealed.
The Grail serves God, the journey to wholeness, and as with Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, one finds that the “home” of True Self is there all along. We must only stop long enough to tap into it.
This story serves as a myth (in the true sense of the word myth – a metaphorical story that explains reality – for my life). It is a narrative that guides me as I make decisions and act in the world. I wish for wholeness, equality and justice. I want to give myself a chance to be proven and to discover the person I was created to be. I also wish to serve others and to help them discover the narrative of God’s love and abundance in their own lives and in the world. As a result, I tend to be encouraging and positive. I like to see the call and talent in others as Arthur did in Perceval, and encourage them, along with myself on my journey, to go on a continual quest to seek out the person God created them to be.
I enjoy using this illustration of the Grail legend for the spiritual journey. Christianity is my container. The message I receive from the Bible and from my spiritual journey is that everyone is created to be equal and all are deserving of love and belonging. Because there are many different communication ethics, especially in the postmodern world, we find ourselves more than ever today, in a position of “othering” others, embodying and protecting very different versions of the “good.” We fail to see that each person has a call to a become who they were created to be (even if what their best Self looks like is very different from mine), to be redeemed as the fullest version of themselves. My life decisions are dictated from within my desire to be whole, as well as my desire to be a companion to others on the road to wholeness that for me is life, where we are seeking to love our neighbors as ourselves, desiring for each human person what we desire for ourselves.
Arnett, R. C., Fritz, J. M., & Bell, L. M. (2009). Communication ethics literacy: dialogue and difference. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications.
Coogan, M. D., Brettler, M. Z., Newsom, C. A., & Perkins, P. (2010). The new Oxford annotated Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jung, E., Franz, M. V., & Dykes, A. (1998). The Grail legend. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University press.
Pyle, H. (1987). Story king aurthur & champions of round table 2v#. Dover Publications.