The zombie apocalypse is imminent. Or so it seems since we have already had earthquakes, hurricanes, melting ice caps, famine and pestilence and that is just what happened recently!
It appears to be our entire mutual fate to be living during a time of great upheaval and sweeping change. When the story of the world becomes less clear it is the unfolding of the inner life that might provide the best way to proceed. The telling of myths, folk tales and fairy tales became a source in my Scot Irish family as a way to face great obstacles and impossible tasks because the examples of the heroines and heroes and the hope they seemed to always have. In every case, something goes terribly wrong – but something even bigger goes right.
The origin myth of Pandora’s box, written by Hesiod in about 800 B.C., is one of my favorites because it was one way to explain how all the evils came about in the world. Zeus gives a wedding present, a box, to Pandora, the first mortal woman on earth. Zeus does not tell Pandora what is in the box, but gives her strict instructions not to open it. What a set up! Somehow Pandora manages to wait a year, at which point her curiosity gets the best of her, and she opens the box. The lid flies open and all the evils and miseries of the world bolt out: hate, violence, sorrow, ignorance, jealousy, and sadness. Pandora manages to shut the box, leaving only Hope who is hiding under the lid. This old myth teaches us that all the ills and ailments, all the scandals and betrayals and the rampant dishonesty must be faced before the hidden hope of life can be found again. It’s as if things must become hopeless before a deeper sense of hope can return from the depths of the human heart. This level of hope includes a darker knowledge of the world and a sharper insight into one’s own soul.
Hope is found, not by clinging to old dreams or by denying despair, but by surviving it. When life becomes darkest the eye of the soul begins to see. “Hope springs eternal” when people begin to see beyond the parade of facts and the litanies of ideologies and learn to trust the deeper values of individual life as well as the underlying truths of human culture. Great crises are not solved by simply conserving assets, but by finding inner resources that are hidden from sight.
All shamans, mystics, Buddha, yogis and saints have said the same thing: answers to our questions come from looking within and in our stillness we find hope.
Hope is a bright star in a hopelessly dark universe. Through light years of distance, the brightness fills our inner selves. Hope is not just an emotion; it is a promise that smiling and laughter are just around the corner. When the fighter has been laid on the canvas by a well placed right to the jaw, hope is there saying, “Get up. Take a nine count if you must, but be ready to stand, and have the ref dust off your gloves. You’re going to win this match.” Hope is drawn to the person who sees beyond the present defeat, beyond the moment of being cast down, beyond the loss of the job, and beyond the negative words of hopeless voices. There is that voice from the “bright star” telling us to look beyond the darkness – to the bright light of hope.
In the end, Pandora hears a faint voice in the box and when she lifts the lid she finds hope, releasing it into the world. And everywhere evil goes, hope goes too. And all that is touched by evil – so too is touched by hope.