Clark Kent (who will one day become Superman) and Oliver Queen (aka, the Green Arrow, a Justice League hero) are talking at the end of the "Identity" episode of CW's Smallville, in which Oliver helped Clark protect his identity as the mysterious person who's been rescuing folks around Metropolis. In the process, however, it's Oliver who rescues Clark's friend Jimmy from a bad guy. This is a turning point for Oliver, who a few episodes earlier had discovered that Lionel Luther murdered his parents (who died when he was a boy). He'd been having problems dealing with the information, spending a great deal of time partying and drinking instead of hero work. But agreeing to help Clark and then saving Jimmy has grounded him again. When Clark asks him what's changed, Oliver tells him:
Oliver: You want to know the truth? I don’t know. It’s like, when I was zipping across the street, taking that punk down . . . Well, I finally felt like myself again, you know? Because that’s who I am. I’m not the party boy who runs off on these lost rum-soaked weekends. I’m not the multinational corporate titan. That’s not me.
Oliver: Underneath it all, the person I really am is Green Arrow.
I loved this scene in this week's episode of Smallville because I think it gets at a couple of deeper truths. When we are distressed or suffering, the world around us is so dark. Good seems swallowed by evil. And our focus often slips; and it's easy to become confused about a lot of things--like who we are, what we're doing here (and if we make a difference) and how the world really works. That's what happened to Oliver when he found out his parents had been murdered.
But when he grudgingly agrees to help Clark and then rescues Jimmy, something happens. His focus shifts from the suffering and darkness and on to the needs of someone else. And when he saves Jimmy, he also has a chance to turn back to truth--about who he is and his purpose in the world.
And as a follower of Jesus, I can't help but think (as I seem to be doing these days) of Jesus' summary of all commands: to love God and love others. And then there are Paul's words in his letter to the Philippian believers reminding us what love looks like: considering others and their needs above our own. And herein lies an amazing truth: when we turn our focus towards God and those with whom we cross paths, we too discover the truth about who we are and what our purpose is in this world. Even in the darkness, choosing to pay attention to those around us and focusing on loving others has a way of moving the darkness back. And it helps to remind us of who--and whose--we are and how the world is supposed to work. And, if we're paying attention, it also reminds us how God is moving and working to bring the world back to the way he designed it to be, how he's bringing right-ness, just-ness and grace in an explosion of love and life.
And underneath it all, we too discover who we are and who we are called and enabled to be.
(Image: CW) smallvillectgy