There is an adorable little scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, in which King Arthur and his men are challenged before crossing a bridge, on their quest for the Grail, by the bridge-keeper to answer questions. My best friend and I love this scene and often repeat the dialogue to each other in silly voices. The questions themselves are silly: What is your name? What is your quest? What is your favorite color? The movie is a comedy, the questions don’t seem much of a challenge, and the difficulty they cause to the characters is hilarious, but the last time my friend and I were joking about it, it suddenly occurred to us how much insight this simple exchange was offering.
How often do we ask ourselves these fundamental questions? How well do we know the answers? My name is my identity, that into which I was born, that which I was given. There is more to it, and I have other names, but my given name is my starting point. My quest is my identity evolving, chosen. My direction, my aspirations. More than what I am – what I want, what I hope, what I try to become.
I have many quests. I think, we all do. Some are small, intermediate, finite tasks. Others are never-ending, grand journeys, constructions so soaring that we can hope only to contribute our little bits to them.
I am on a quest for Truth. To better know, to more deeply understand the nature and beauty of Existence. Its path lies through study and contemplation, reflection and debate, through patient watching and tireless searching, through digging and clearing away. Through disappointment and discovery and changing of mind. Its milestones are ecstatic moments of comprehension. Connections where there were none before. This is the search for That Which Is. It is this quest that made me an academic, a teacher, and a writer, and it is this quest that brought me to God.
I am on a quest to spread Love, the fabric of Reality, to everywhere I can reach. To mend it where it wears thin. To swaddle in it those who are cold. To watch its threads bind together all things and to help the binds hold. To pour a drop or two of my own colors into its breathtaking, fluid patterns – the living color of Love. This is the quest that kept me alive through the dark night of my soul. It keeps me on my feet when I want to fall down. It keeps me teaching. It is this quest that brought me to the foot of the cross, made me hear God’s voice. This path demands of me vows of poverty and obedience.
I am on a quest for the Kingdom of God. On my way to salvation. On a time-bound journey to a union beyond time and space. With a taste and a touch of it always in my heart, with a glimpse of its wonder always before me – with Jesus by my side – I live my life walking toward that future moment when “future” and “moment” will lose meaning and our union will be complete. I am on a mystical quest for my Christ, and it is this quest that demands of me the vow of chastity. To it – to Him – I give my all.
I am on a quest to show the world to itself, on a quest for contagious self-awareness. I am an artist, by nature a mirror of the universe, born to make it marvel at the unfathomable, ineffable beauty that it is and recoil in horror from its own filth. It is this quest that made me a musician and a writer. I look at the world and can’t help but whisper to it in awe. I am an artist; I can’t help but think that the wonders and warnings I soak in from the ether and condense under my fingertips, once they fly out there into the world, will make the world better.
I am on a quest to be better. For the sake of Truth, for the sake of God, for the sake of Beauty, for the sake of Salvation, for the sake of His Kingdom and all that It means, I must be better and I must do more. Less selfish, more patient, stronger, more perseverant. More sensitive and tactful, more open-minded. Less demanding, less needy, less anxious, and calmer. For the sake of the world, for the sake of my Love, I am on a quest to be all I can be.
For the sake of these things I leave comforts and friends, fight fatigue and doubt, stomp down the weeds of my own nature.
For the sake of our quests, we breathe. We live. We survive. We soar.
And you, my friend? What is your name? What is your quest?