Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Hall Of Heroes

I stand within a great hall, so vast that I cannot see the far walls and the ceiling is cloaked in shadows. It might seem that such a chamber would dwarf my own spirit, would make me feel small in comparison, but it does not. Instead I feel that I would grow to fill the hall. That space calls out to all that is good within my own soul, encourages it, and makes me believe that I can be more, that I can be what this hall requires.

There is no doubt what that might be. This is a Hall of Heroes. No mere tomb, this, nor even a shrine. This is a cathedral dedicated to the sacred honor of the Hero. The world shakers and world makers, defenders and avengers, who had come before and would come again, fill this hall with their memories and their beings, even though I would swear that no other is present save I alone.

No, not alone. Never alone in the Hall of Heroes. No other person stands with me in flesh, but all who had ever dared to stand now stand with me in spirit in that holy place. None could ever be alone in the Hall of Heroes. None, that is, save those who would defile, degrade, or dismiss the spirit of the Hero. They stand alone. Even in their great mobs, they always stand alone.

I walk the hall, head erect and shoulders back, tall and proud for no other stance is possible when filled with the presence of the Hero. They are uplifting. A Hero does not kneel and one does not kneel in the presence of a Hero. One looks up, always and forever up. To climb and achieve, to scale great heights. This is what a Hero does. This and more. The Hero does not say, “I did this and you cannot.” The Hero says, “I did this to show you how. I did this and so can you.” The Hero looks up and I look up, to see, to follow, to learn. To scale my own great heights, now that I can see how it is done. The Hero uplifts, and I feel that I can fly.

So I fly. There is plenty of room in the Hall of Heroes and so I spread mighty wings I did not even know I possessed and I take to the air. I soar because this is where I belong. Whether I can reach the top or not does not matter. I will soar and achieve more, even if I fail, than will any who choose to remain chained below. I will touch the sky, and the sky will know I was here. I will be as great as I can be and, if others are greater still, they will not mock me for not reaching them. They will be proud that I tried, proud that I did not quit, proud that I did more than I would otherwise have done. If I reach them, they will welcome me, and if I do not reach them, they will tell me, “Job well done,” because I did my best and I showed others the way. They inspired me to fly and I will, in turn, inspire others to fly. What does it matter if one flies farther than another? We all fly, and we each achieve our own greatness.

From the air I can see more of the hall, above me, below me, and to all sides. The light seems infinite up here, but the hall defies description. “Infinite” is not a large enough word. The hall stretches on in every direction forever and beyond forever. The Heroes who have come and gone, the Heroes who are, the Heroes who will be are beyond counting, and I do not try to count them. One or more than one. It does not matter. The Hero is a blessing and that blessing cannot be confined to a simple space or a simple time.

Statues fill the hall. They line the floor. They sit on shelves. They float on the air. Statues of men and women who are more than men and women. They wear ancient armor and modern uniforms, business suits and shepherds frocks. They are of all times, all places, and all walks of life. They are humanity in its countless forms, but they are more, so much more. They are Heroes, each and every one. They are simply beautiful and beautiful simplicity because they are all that they could possibly be and they could never be other than what they are. Some achieved greatness in life while some fell to mortal defeat, but they all walked the path and they all inspired others to greatness.

I bask in the presence of the Hero and I am filled. Not overfilled, because I grow to encompass the presence. I become more than I was, but not more than I can be. I am always who I am, only more so. I am all of me, rather than some of me. I am only me, yet who can be more than who they are?

Yet now I see something which I had not noticed before nor expected to find in this great hall. I see a statue that looks like me yet is not me. I see a Hero of my time and my place and I want to yell, I want to cheer. I had been so afraid that my time and place had killed the Hero, yet here before me is proof that is not so. They are, we are, and ever will be. The Hero cannot die because the Hero is not merely the person. Not only the person. The Hero is the action and the memory, the inspiration which remains even after the person is gone.

The Hero exists in my time and place, even though my time and place has declared the Hero to be a thing of the past. Why, then, is my Hero crying? What can reduce such a being to tears?

“We are not gone but we are not in our proper place.”

My Hero's voice is the voice of hope on the verge of breaking. It is a perfect symphony, marred by a single wrong note.

“The people have forgotten. They have been lied to and they have believed the lie and so they believe that we no longer exist, that we no longer can exist.”

I cry out in horror and disbelief. It is a sound that does not belong in this hall and it is swept away from me, dragged away and distilled to a memory before it is even a sound.

I plead with my Hero.

“You are needed now more than ever.”

My Hero answers.

“Do you think we do not know that?”

I wring my hands and despair that the world could ever be as it is, but my Hero smiles through tears and I feel hope reborn.

“Hope can never die a natural death. Hope can only be murdered, and that only when no one, anywhere or anywhen, believes.”

I smile in spite of my fear.

“I believe.”

There are no tears on the face of my Hero. There never were. They were always my tears, wrenched from my fear. My Hero is radiant. My Hero is the hope that cannot die.

“What do you believe?”

I know the answer and I do not hesitate.

“I believe in Heroes.”

The smile my Hero bestows upon this answer is the morning sun, rising to burn away the night's fears.

“Tell them. Tell them the truth.”

I awake from my dream that was not a dream. I have been in the Hall of Heroes and I am no longer afraid. Hope cannot die so long as anyone believes. I believe in hope. I believe in Heroes.

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