Keeping his wits, Odysseus got the cyclops drunk, blinded him and escaped with his Ithacans from the cave where Polyphemus kept them to eat them. As he sailed away, he had only to rejoice after his brush with death.
With only a short journey home ahead, Odysseus then makes the biggest mistake of his life. He shouts at the Polyphemus and boasts: “It is I, Odysseus, who have blinded you.” For indulging his pride, he paid dearly.
Polyphemus’ dad was Poseidon, god of the seas. As long as Polyphemus didn’t know who blinded him, he had no one of asking his dad to exact revenge. But once he learned Odysseus’ name, Polyphemus could act. (This is the limitation of Greek gods.)
If you’re a sailor, you don’t want to get Poseidon mad. The god whipped up winds and storms. He drove Odysseus into one death trap after another. Ten years later, with all his men dead and all his ships lost, only Odysseus washes up on the shores of Ithaca.
It’s interesting that even pagan cultures echo the Bible: Pride goes before a fall. And yet, we Americans fail miserably to guard our tongue and heart from the dangers of pride. Strive for the virtue of humility.
Photo source: Actually I wasn’t swimming in the Adriatic Sea. I found this stunning picture somewhere on the Internet. I don’t own its rights, and I’m not making any $ on it. But if someone would pay for my ticket to go visit the Mediterranean, I’ll be more than happy to get my own picture of a beautiful boat. In the meantime, profound thanks to whoever took this one. You rock!
Odysseus‘ sailors landed on a Mediterranean island whose inhabitants feasted on the lotus fruit that was immediately addictive. Whoever savored its flavor, fell into a peaceful narcotic bliss, lay down by the ocean, and wanted nothing more than to consume lotus and forget family, future and fortune.
When I lived in Guatemala, we ate beans, rice, eggs and tortillas most of the time. Once a month, we ate meat. We had one car and worried about when we could afford new shoes. With this poverty, we lived on the edge — and that edge reflected itself in ministry on the edge, prayer on the edge. God moved powerfully.
Then we were forced to come back to Lotusland, I mean, the USA. And I have tasted the fruit of its luxury. Definitely, our standard of life is higher (even though we live currently at the poverty level!!!) At the same time, I can note that my standard of prayer has dropped. I pray, but with not the same intensity. The edge is gone.
I wonder if America’s Lotus life, whose effect I can perceive in myself, dilutes the prayers of other Christians as well. I wonder if the work of God is hindered by our lackadaisical praying.
Writing this blog has been harder than any other so far. They all brim optimism. This one feels like a confession. Before I struggled with prosperity; now, I struggle with prosperity. Can these musing stirs us to recapture the flame?
After some of his sailors ate the fruit and fell under its spell, Odysseus stripped them away with force and tied them to their benches until they could sail far enough away and his men returned to their senses. What will it take for us to pray passionately?