Facing your inner Herod
Herod the Great was the Roman-appointed King of Judea when Jesus was born. He has come down to us in the musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” as a frivolous buffoon: “Prove to me that you’re no fool. Walk across my swimming pool. Prove to me that you’re divine; change my water into wine” he says to Jesus. Historically, he was a very proactive ruler. He got things done, but often through taxes that fell most heavily on the Jewish people. He was competent, but ruthless.
When he heard rumors of the birth of a child who would become King of the Jews, he did not hear a promise of great wonder in human history — instead, he heard a threat to his own power. After all, HE was the king of the Jews. He plotted and schemed to find the child, so he could kill him. When the power of Joseph’s dreams outwitted him, he set about slaughtering every male child under the age of two in Bethlehem “and its surrounding district,” as Matthew the Evangelist tells us (Matthew 2:16).
Herod thus serves as a striking and horrific example of whom we do not want to be. Not only was he averse to any change at all, but especially to that which might have a discomforting effect on him personally.
As we contemplate this travesty, we can ponder what stage of welcome our own hearts provide to the different, to the threats to our comfort level, to the challenges to our own status quo.
At this time, when the pandemic, the economy and the turbulence surrounding family celebrations are dominating our mental landscape, my own awareness is caught up in those things, too. At the same time my heart keeps calling my attention to our contemporary Holy Innocents, the Mexican children in confinement at our border.
My interest here is not political, but spiritual. I ask myself what room there is in the inn of my own heart for these children. A classic way of getting attention in any bureaucracy is to know what desk the issue is sitting on. Whose job is it to move things to the next step? Do I know any of these things? The answer is no. I want to do something about that. If I do, I’ll share it in Wisdomkeepers at http://www.billobrienconsciousnesscoaching.com/contact/.
This does not mean that you should feel obliged to do the same thing. I invite you, though, to allow such thoughts to flow around in your awareness, as you move through the traditions of this season. Be sure to tend to your own needs. Love yourself first, so you can love your neighbor better.
Basically, where in your own soul is The Unwelcome? What part of yourself is constricted within your heart waiting for you to turn the key? What name might you assign to your inner Herod? Your answers to these questions can lead to action, which will liberate your energy and increase your happiness.
This concludes six years of Wise Guyde columns. Thank you for reading along. The Wise Guyde column will continue in the months ahead. I wish you a restful holiday season whatever your tradition.
Bill O’Brien is a consciousness coach and shamanic practitioner. He and his wife Linda have lived in Shepherdstown since 2005. He can be reached at email@example.com.