Sunday, September 16, 2012
The Search For Obiwan
When one looks back at life after 48 years it can be a bit overwhelming and even discouraging. I look back at so many lost opportunities and bad decisions. Also, I can see where I have hurt so many that I care deeply about. I think of missed ministry, business and personal growth opportunities. Deeper than that, I see the hurt my family has gone through because of my shortcomings. I wonder how much better of a husband, father and friend I could have been. I think of the lost financial gains I could have realized with just a little more wisdom. It's a lonely feeling with a tinge of regret. There's a longing for wisdom, encouragement, and strength. The losses can even be paralyzing feeding into the passivity that injures in the long run. I see that men really long for a mentor; the man we can turn to for advice, encouragement and strength.
I believe that God has ordained fathers to fit that role, but sadly through the attacks of Satan, our own sin and shortcomings and sometimes tragic circumstances, they/we don't fill that role. To be honest, I know that sometimes we as sons are also too stubborn to accept the love and guidance that God graciously gives us through our fathers. That is of course, tragic. So many of us look for a mentor. For me, I call it my search for Obiwan.
"Use the Force, Luke."
Many times I have longed for, prayed for and hoped a mentor. So many times in life you can be left looking for answers, longing for someone to provide strength, assurance, and guidance. This longing is deep within all men in my estimation. If one were to look at movies and novels through the years there's a stock character known as the sage. For me, the best and most complete example is Obiwan Kenobi from the Star Wars franchise. With the benefit of seeing his character evolve from a Padawan learner to enlightened mentor, we find the amazing and arduous process of a man growing through the trials of life. Focusing on his time directly with Luke shows us some very powerful insights into mentoring and continues to compel me to find someone who might have these traits.
"You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you."
"A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi knights."
Obiwan played a part in the deepest and most tragic plot point of the Saga: The Fall Of The Republic and of Anakin Skywalker. The weight of such responsibility must have been huge. What is powerful is that somehow at a later time he had somehow made peace and had perspective on these events. Great mentors have failed - possibly on a colossal level. I think all men have failed and yet there are a precious few who can rise above that. Most end up paralyzed, bitter and cynical in looking at the fate they have received. Those who conquer discouragement gain a deep wisdom that only comes through healing, experience and time. It is a trait we all are desperate for and one that a mentor possesses.
Obiwan: "You must learn the ways of the Force if you're to come with me to Alderaan."
This quote is one of those seminal moments in the Saga. It is a calling to something bigger than yourself. Masculine initiation and calling are lost on our culture or ridiculed as this archaic tradition that has no relevance to modern society. This view is deeply emasculating. We all need, crave and were created for adventure. Why are we so facinated with it? Why are so many novels and movies about adventure? It is because it challenges us, measures us and requires us to become more than what we are. Luke is a back country farm boy who longs for adventure. Obiwan brings him out from that life and into a larger struggle. Somewhere inside all men is the desire to be a hero. A mentor can call us to fullfill that role.
Han Solo: "I call it luck."
Obiwan: "In my experience, there's no such thing as luck."
Han Solo is one of the coolest characters in the Saga. Who doesn't want to be the gunslinger who lives by his own rules? At first he's the classic cynic straight from the Humprey Bogart line of tough guy loners. The one thing about those who criticize is that they can fall back on being "right". It's passive. Take a look around and you'll see so many critics and "experts" out there. Full of opinions, they sit on the sideline of life taking verbal shots at those who actually try to do something. It's weak. It's also what bullies do. Han the critic is ridiculing Luke the idealist. It's a discouraging moment. Obiwan, the engaged, steps in and defends the idealist. A mentor knows that life's journey is full of naysayers, bullies, cynics and critics. What he also knows is that he can provide strength. Ah, wouldn't life be so much more bearable with the strength of a mentor having your back?
"You've taken your first step into a larger world."
Luke just defeated a sparking metal tennis ball with a blindfold on. Some would say "Big deal!" The mentor knows better. He knows we all were at the beginning at one time. He knows that we need to walk through the long journey of life with more than sheer will. We need encouragement. Obiwan truthfully exposes the important fact of taking that first step. Would your life be better, more fulfilled, more gratifying and more accomplished if you knew someone was clearly on your side? I think of how I won't do things because of the lack of encouragement (passivity!!!). I also can clearly think of times when it spoke deep into my soul.
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."
This moment was one of the most frustrating in the Saga. At first Obiwan tells Luke that his father was murdered by Darth Vader (we infer that they are two different people). Later the explanation is that Darth Vader the evil killed all that was good in Anakin Skywalker. Does it sound like a cheap cop out? Actually, it's wisdom speaking. The deep truth Obiwan is describing is that we can be our own murderer. In the broader context, the mentor provides wisdom. It's showing us life's difficulties and provides perspective. It's taking life's hardships and giving us direction. It's guiding us through our failures and providing us comfort. Wisdom is powerful and all too fleeting in our culture.
"The Force will be with you. Always."
I sometimes think that I'm seeking something that may not exist. Realistically, it's up to God to determine if I end up finding the Obiwan for my life. I know that at this point in my life, I need to be Obiwan for someone. Perhaps in that process, I'll find what I'm looking for. Until then my search and saga will continue.