My family has a holiday tradition of seeing the latest Hobbit films in 3D IMAX. We are all anticipating the release of the third and final film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on Dec. 17.
The second movie left off on a cliffhanger with Smaug, the dragon voiced by the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch, abandoning his vast treasure on the Lonely Mountain in a great puff of wrath after hobbit hero, Bilbo Baggins, played by the equally amazing Martin Freeman, awakens him in search of the Arkenstone.
Bilbo faces the dragon with humor and an apparent lack of fear, appealing to Smaug's vanity as he engages him in conversation and avoids his fiery blasts while searching for the treasured stone in a deep sea of gold.
It's entertaining watching fictitious characters display the power of good over evil, but the film got me thinking about the importance of facing our own personal dragons and slaying them. Instead of allowing them to comfortably sleep in our thought, we need to rouse ourselves and vigorously oppose the dragon-like thoughts that would try to devour our innate goodness and self-esteem -- treasures that are rightfully ours.
Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o referred to these dragons in her speech to an audience of 10,000 women at the recent annual Massachusetts Women's Conference I attended. She said the dragon is always the same, coming as our own voice disguised as self-doubt, criticism, fear, and other imposters, which would attempt to keep us from our life purpose.
When Lupita faced her dragons, she defied the odds as a young Kenyan woman and finally decided to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. She eventually earned her Master's degree from the prestigious Yale School of Drama in 2012 and received her first Academy Award just two years later.
She also cited the story of Jesus healing the paralytic man, whose friends went so far as to take the tiling off the roof to lower him through the crowds to Jesus' feet in the house where the Master was healing and teaching (Luke 5, BibleGateway). She said we all need people in our lives who will help to bring us to what will defeat our dragons.
Our advocates have our best interests in mind and don't accept verdicts such as failure or disease. They may take the form of friends or family, but they begin with the good thoughts that are always occurring to us from a uniquely divine source. Rather than turning away in the battle, we can equip ourselves with these spiritual advocates, or angel messages, that effectively dismiss our opponent.
New England religious reformer Mary Baker Eddy was no stranger to these battles as a woman presenting radically new ideas about spirituality and health. In Eddy's writing and teaching, she revealed how the spirit that animated Jesus' work is the Christ, an advocate for all that is good and right, proving humanity's inseparable relationship with God, or divine Love. She would eventually write,
"When the good fight is fought, error yields up its weapons and kisses the feet of Love while white-winged peace sings to the heart a song of angels." (From a collection of Eddy's Miscellaneous Writing.)
While a dragon is an unlikely symbol for the Christmas season, which honors Jesus' birth, the dragons of hatred and contempt that attempted to destroy Jesus at the beginning and end of his life were ultimately proved powerless.
We may not face the same perils as the master Christian, but we can be reassured that facing down our innermost fears with the warmth of divine love will bring release and healing.