Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Medusa's boy

When I was in grade six, my schoolteacher did a whole unit on Greek mythology. We had a Greek mythology anthology that we studied and we were tested on the various stories we read.  One of my favorites was the story of Perseus.  He was the guy who killed the Medusa, a being so ugly, with snakes for hair, that the sight of her face would turn a person to stone.  Through an amazing set of circumstances Perseus was able to cut the monster's head off while looking only at her reflection in a mirrored shield, and store it in a magic sack which would adjust to the size of whatever was put into it.

The reason I liked the story so much was (beside the obvious killing the monster, which REALLY appealed to me) that when the Medusa's head came off, from her blood sprang two fully-grown creatures.  One was a warrior named Chrysaor, replete with curved sword and shining armour  (of whom we hear nearly nothing afterward) - and the other was a pure white winged horse named Pegasus.  

Like most girls of about 11 years old, I was enamored with horses of any kind, but one with wings -!! 

That Pegasus' mother was the Gorgon Medusa was a picture to me of beauty and majesty rising above the ugliness of family of origin, transcending the chains of "what has always been."  It was a symbol that something good could come from something unspeakably awful.  I spent many an hour thereafter, riding on Pegasus' back in my imagination, escaping - if only in my mind - the ugliness of what I perceived to be my lot in life : born into the lower class, raised in a community that seemed to have no regard for the beauty and intelligence of four-legged beings - nor for the transporting qualities of music or of the written word.  I longed to be free - of what I could not articulate.  But the longing still called me.  And it took shape in flights of fancy on which I rode, as on Pegasus' back I flew away ... above the cares of the everyday, above the taunts of those who said I was crazy - or "mental" as they called it. 

That childhood belief, that hope that Pegasus' story gave to me - the idea that one could be more than one's past - helped me survive those years.  And as I grew older, I wondered if it could ever happen. A large part of me started to die inside as I tried and tried in my own power to be rid of those patterns my childhood had set for me...and failed miserably.  Not until I gave up and admitted that I could not do it, not until I realized that only a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity and then turned my will and my life over to God's care - did I regain that hope. 

As He empowered me to do the next right thing and then the next, over days and days, weeks and weeks, my continually healing spirit heard again the familiar whinny that called me upward as a child.  

This time it was not to escape.  This time it was to celebrate.

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