- Luke Skywalker loses his mother moments after his birth, and, raised by Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, thinks himself an orphan.
- Dorothy Gale (in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz) is an orphan raised by Uncle Henry and Auntie Em.
- Peter Parker, the amazing Spider-Man, was an orphan raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May.
- Harry Potter, the young wizard fated to fight Lord Voldemort, is an orphan raised by his Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia.
- Ofelia, the protagonist of Pan’s Labyrinth, is half-orphaned, and goes in search of her mystical ancestry.
- In Stardust, the new Neil Gaiman movie, Tristan is raised by his father but never knew his mother, who lives in a magical realm.
- Frodo Baggins, the hobbit charged with destroying the One Ring, was orphaned and adopted by a cousin named Bilbo.
- In Night Watch, Yegor is raised with no knowledge of his father.
This theme isn’t just in contemporary fiction, but runs in Scriptures as well:
- Moses was raised as a worldly prince, ignorant of his heritage in a covenant with God.
- When his mother Mary chided him for worrying his father and her, Jesus replied that his true Father was God. (Lk 2:48-49)
Why is this theme so universal? For millennia, many of the greatest accounts of heros, teachers, and mystics have been associated with mysteries about their birth and origins. But as I said before, all the stories are about you.
Nothing in your circumstances can account for why you’re here. You can thank your parents for giving you a body, but what gave you you? There’s a mystery in our origins. We don’t know where we have come from. Where does consciousness come from, life come from? Material answers simply lead to the question of where does matter come from? What made the Big Bang go bang? Where do I really, really come from?
This is one of the ultimate questions, or better yet, a part of the ultimate question. A Zen koan sharpens it this way: What was your face before your parents were born?
The stories tell us that finding your origin will be a spiritual earthquake. Luke Skywalker discovered that his father was one of the most powerful warriors in the galaxy, now intent on enslaving worlds. Dorothy killed the Wicked Witch of the West. Harry Potter discovers his wizard talents and his destiny to fight the most powerful and evil dark wizard. Peter Parker dedicates himself to protecting the population of his city. Ofelia learns she is the princess of an underground paradise, hidden from humans. Tristan discovers his heritage, happiness, and eternal life. Frodo destroys the inexorably corruptive Ring. Yegor choses between the dark and light sides.
Moses emancipated a nation. Jesus forgave the sins of the world.
What will you do? It’s time to find out. Who’s your Daddy?