Seek First the Kingdom - The March of Hope - Forward
Mesopotamia, 2700 B.C.
Welcome to a new series! I hope you enjoyed Journey to Christendom - the Freedom Dance. Monday’s weekly publication is moving to Seek First the Kingdom - The March of Hope. You will find out what happens next on the Trail of the Dogmatic Creed with St. Joan and St. Thérèse!
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Somewhere on these ancient plains early on a still night, perhaps after family, guests, and servants ready themselves to take their leave for sleep, we might imagine this great king, one of the first warriors and dragon-slayers to rise up out of the ancient mythologies to take on the figure of an actual historical personality, staring out into the setting darkness. The moon has made her presence felt, the stars are beginning to shine, and the animals of the night begin to make noises in the sand and shrubs. This is the time of day when one can be alone and think. This is how an ancient hero slips unnoticeably into quiet time, a few moments before retiring when a great mind can reflect. As the servants finalize the cleaning and prepare for bed, our king moves further outside. Tired, he puts his hands on a short stone wall, leans on his arms, surveys the land, and wonders.
He has conquered. He has defended. He is a master. He recently threw back his bitter enemy Agga, king of Kish, the perennial, pestilent threat to his people, who time and again sought our great king's land. This time it is for good, our king hopes. "To the pit of Hades for Agga!" our hero might even say to himself if he had happened to have any notion of hell. A city wall was built to protect his stronghold, the first one of its kind in this land. The inhabitants feel safe again. Our king is noble, and the people honor him. But beneath all this activity, accomplishment, and glory, he is deeply unsettled and wondering.
Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, is living in an early time, a time before the Bible, a time before religious tradition as we know it was handed down as dogmatic truth to be accepted, a time before the world's major religions of either Western or Eastern origin could stake their claims. There is no self-help literature, no infomercials, no New Age movement, no Islam, no Catholicism, no Protestantism, no Buddhism, and most likely, no real mature Hinduism. Our king has none of the religious "baggage" we take for granted; in this sense, he might be considered free. Alternatively, he might be regarded as lost.
This great king is in a position we can hardly imagine today. He is trying to put life together, its point, purpose, and end, all in a meaningful way, without the aid of the world's religions as we know them. He struggles with life just as we do, thousands of years later, in our post-industrial, high-technology world that our great and noble king could have never imagined. He is great, but he feels small. He has accomplished much but feels empty. He wants to conquer the world but is beginning to wonder what happens after that. He needs to know where he is going and what life is all about. In other words, like us, he wants to hope.
Gilgamesh, though, is particularly contemplative and solemn tonight. This night is different from the rest because he has finally come to articulate and formulate the problematic stirrings in the deepest part of his soul. If you were to probe his thoughts by attempting to draw out his speech, you might hear him sound slightly evasive; you would sense that he is holding back; he is not telling you everything that lies in his heart to burden it. What is it, great Gilgamesh?
We are now at an exciting juncture in our story. Let us temporarily take an imaginary remote control, hit the fast-forward button, and move thousands of years into the future.
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