Every art form tells a story. And every story is, at it’s heart, either a comedy or a tragedy.
Tragedy is essentially the story of the myriad manifestations of living a life without God. In a true tragedy, there is no reconciliation, no redemption, no return to loving union. The cathartic quality of tragic art forms is their potential to show us the wound at the heart of our soul and stir us to seek a saviour.
A comedy, although it may contain many sad and moving moments, is characterised by the hope and realisation of redemption, often in the form of reconciliation and reunion at the end.
Every living element on earth and throughout the universe cries out the story of its Creator – the harmonic resonances of the planets; the proportions and distances of the sun, moon and earth; fractals; the golden ratio; the composition of an atom – everything tells the story of the One who made it.
The drama of each individual life in the story of the earth, unfolding within the poetic dance of the universe, orchestrated by the greatest conductor, is the dream of a perfect creation.
Our ancestors, whether looking at the natural world around them, fathoming out the cosmos, or telling tales of mythic imagination around the fire, may have seen the story of God unfolding within and enfolding every aspect of their lives. When Christ stepped into history and lived a life on earth, steeped in symbolism yet standing in reality, the wise ones recognised him for who he is.
Fairy tales also speak to us on deeply symbolic and spiritual levels. Through the subtle weaving of archetypal characters and supra-conscious images, the fairy tale communicates with us at a deep soul level. Each fairy tale contains the potential to awaken our soul consciousness in a variety of different ways. And each tells the story of our human soul journey: from separation, into the darkness, to loving reunion.
Many fairy tales begin with the death of a father or mother, or with the children being cast out. Bruno Bettelheim has given explanations of what this may symbolise at the subconscious level – the need to become independent beings, autonomous in one’s own right. But at the soul level, Rudolph Steiner gives an alternative understanding. He identifies some of the ways the tales work upon the soul, and shows the importance of harmonising our inner and outer natures in order to live fully integrated spiritual-physical lives.
With these two interpretations in mind, it seems to me that we can see the loss of the parent as our initial human predicament: being separated from God, our Divine Father-Mother. From this situation, we are cast into a world of darkness and danger, in which we must use our senses to survive. The completion of the journey is characterised by rescue and reunion, and the promise of eternal joy.
We each have the free will to decide whether our own personal story will be a tragedy or a comedy. But as the Great Story of HiStory unfolds, we will see that God, the ultimate storyteller, is creating a comedy. It’s punctuated by many sad and moving moments, but its ultimate direction is towards redemption: reconciliation with Divine Love through a life lived in Christ.
(For more on the idea of comedy/tragedy, check out Glen’s blog post here.)