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Grail Awakening

grail

In a scene from John Boorman’s “Excalibur,” King Arthur suffers an emotional wound that leaves him helpless. His condition impacts the entire land. Crops don’t grow. Flowers won’t bloom. People starve. Only the Holy Grail can heal this.

After 10-years, the Grail finally confronts Sir Percival, the last surviving Grail knight, and asks in a booming voice: “What is the secret of the Grail? Who does it serve?” Percival runs away.

Later, after an angry mob attacked him, Percival falls into a body of water, his heavy armor dragging him down. Removing one piece of armor at a time, he rises as someone reborn.

The Grail confronts him again:

“What is the secret of the Grail? Who does it serve?”

“You, my lord.”

“Who am I?”

“You are my lord and king. You are Arthur.”

“Have you found the secret that I have lost?

“Yes. You and the land are one.”

Percival brings the Grail to the suffering King Arthur and bids him drink.

Arthur confesses: “I am wasting away. I cannot die, and I cannot live.”

Percival holds the cup to Arthur’s lips, reminding him that he and the land are one:

“Drink from the chalice. You will be reborn, and the land with you.”

One sip, and Arthur instantly returns to life.

“Percival,” he tells him, “I did not know how empty was my soul, until it was filled.”

With renewed focus, Arthur rises to confront those enemies who await him.

“I have lived through others for far too long. Lancelot carried my honor and Guenevere, my guilt. Mordred bore my sins. My knights have fought my causes. Now, my brother, I shall be... king.”

The lessons from this scene are plenty:

“You and the land are one.”

We are not kings, yet the conditions of our world depend on how we live, our values, our neglect, our greedy exploitations, and terrible wars. Like Arthur, we need to recognize simple cause and effect, or we turn our planet into a wasteland.

“I am wasting away. I cannot die, and I cannot live.”

Too many of us are caught in meaningless routines, heads filled with the repetitious thoughts and values of other people, suppressing our heroic urges due to laziness and lack of inspiration. We fail to do good or confront evil. We are dragged by time as soulless non-actors caught in its wake. Profound emptiness defines us until there is nothing left.

“I did not know how empty was my soul, until it was filled.”

We CANNOT know the fullness of life until we venture into it and experience it directly. By imbibing from the Mystery of life, we wake up to all that is around us. We only live, really live, by partaking in life’s joys, disappointments, and challenges. When we do otherwise, our lives are wasted.

“I have lived through others for far too long. Lancelot carried my honor and Guenevere, my guilt. Mordred bore my sins. My knights have fought my causes. Now, my brother, I shall be... king.”

We fail life when we take pride from other people’s accomplishments… and accomplish nothing ourselves… when we blame others for the sins we partake in, convince ourselves that there is nothing we can do to change things for the better, as an excuse not to try... when we embrace ideologies that destroy rather than build in order to fill our emptiness… with nothing but discontent.

In this movie, the words of legend still live. Today’s technology, wonderful as it is, cannot sooth the spiritual side of human nature. It can distract. It can dull our minds with convenience. It can prolong a life unaccustomed to living. But it CANNOT FULFILL THE HUMAN SOUL.

We need lives worth living for that kind of fulfillment. We need to resurrect the conscience of our Inner Knights to find who we are and contribute to the greater good.

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