To be or not to be yourself

by Andrea Elizabeth

One of the aspects of the feedback I received from my story, “What Would the Phantom Do“, relates to if Kenneth should quit being himself to achieve whatever goal. I believe that he wasn’t being himself to begin with, but was too worried and fearful in his accommodations. He played it safe. To me he used the Phantom to become more boldly himself and more imaginative. It required increased energy, action, and at the end, commitment. He did not translate that into the deviant behavior of the Phantom, however.

It was intended to be more in line with what I read from Saint Nicolai Velimirovich just now in The Universe as Symbols & Signs in the chapter on “Animals as Symbols”:

2. The serpent is a symbol of the devil. It was used as a tool by Satan when he deceived Eve inducing her to commit the sin of disobedience toward the Creator. The serpent therefore is the only animal in the world that was cursed by God: “Because thou has done this, be thou cursed above all cattle and above every beast of the field.” (Gen. 3:14) From here comes the terrible enmity which still exists not only between man and the serpent, but between all animals and the serpent. When Jesus advised His disciples, “be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” (Matt. 3:16) He was thinking of the serpent’s constant watchfulness and awareness of danger. Yet that is only a part of His advise to His disciple. The other part is “harmless as doves.” St. Chrysostom comments, “Wisdom is of no avail unless connected with harmlessness.” Isidor Pelussiot explains with these words, “To keep the faith as a serpent keeps its head from danger, and disrobe the old man as a serpent disrobes its old scales.” (p. 31)

I wonder if it is a modern invention to “be onesself”. Most spiritual direction seems to be about changing ourselves. Orthodox can work this out by saying that to become like Christ is to become onesself in that we are created in His image.