At the risk of offending my high school history teachers, I don’t remember anything about studying the Holy Grail. My first recollection was the humorous rendering of Monty Python and the Holy Grail; crusaders singing of spam and bridge keepers who held the key to passage (“the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow”). History tells us that quest of the Grail was fraught with danger and bloodshed. Somehow the singing Minstrels had a way of taking the edge off the violence, “He was not in the least bit scared to be mashed into a pulp, or to have his eyes gouged out, and his elbows broken. To have his kneecaps split, and his body burned away, and his limbs all hacked and mangled…” Okay! Okay!
Maybe I could glean insight from the Indian Jones series. Did the biblical artifact of the cup used to celebrate the Lord’s Supper really have supernatural powers? Indiana would confront his dad, “This is an obsession, Dad. I’ve never understood it. Never. Neither did Mom.” How true! The quest of the Holy Grail began as an obsession and was portrayed as such throughout history.
The Holy Grail is rift with legends which first appeared in Europe around 1180 and flourished until the mid-Fourteenth Century. The Grail stories emerged in German, French, and English versions were often central to the story of men who somehow wanted to connect to their spiritual path as Richard Rohr says, “in a nonacademic way.”
Legend records stories of journey turned quest; genuine myth anchored in men’s reality. Myths of the Holy Grail were reflected raw determination and focus; men would stake their life on finding it.
We face a temptation today, an apathetic shrug to great quests. Although we have a world of possibilities at our finger-tips so many people have difficulty reading meaningful patterns of our existence. Too many wander without much purpose; unsure of where to apply their talents.
When I ask people today if they could clearly articulate their purpose I often get an uncomfortable mumble in response. If given the opportunity to articulate a personal mission statement many people look at me like I’ve just asked them to describe life on Mars.
It may be difficult to express and even more challenging to face, but what may be needed is that we embark on a vision quest. To face an oft-buried desire to enter the “grail” of our interior world to find out why we are here and what we are to do.
Have you taken such a journey? Can you lean on the stories of others who have made such a quest and now live with a clarity you desire? Are there people who could challenge you to make the quest, encourage you along the way, and cheer you on when you return?
What if…you chose the quest to find your “Holy Grail?”