Pride : Coming Into Our Own
It's important to feel proud of oneself, for it is a strength, and heathenism is about cultivating and collecting strengths. A good, proportionate, strong sense of self is a good not only for self but for the community as well, because the richness of one's flavor adds new colors of joy and depth to the gathering, and encourages others to be their full and true selves.
Heathenism has no shame in being a human being, but rather encourages us to strive to be the best human being we can be, and to make good as we can on where we have fallen short, knowing our mistakes have as much to teach us (maybe more, at times) than our achievements. The goal is not moral perfection, but full human maturation through progressive moral integrity and pursuit of wholesomeness. Here 'wholesomeness' does not mean blandness but the endeavor to become as whole a human being as one can, true to all the different aspects of that multiplicity that makes up who we are. Achievement of these ultimately human goals is a great cause for pride.
Our goal is not to stay young forever (though Idunn keeps us young at heart), but to enjoy the long fruition into fully cooked elderhood, where our broad and lustily human experiences have been digested into wisdom and warmth that blesses the community. Far better than sainthood, which remains abstract and ascetic, are exemplars whose lives have stayed somewhat rough and wild around the edges and yet have managed to find the point of balance whereby they come into their own, because this full and human example inspires us and brings a sense of proud possibility. We learn from each other.
It is not that we do not have tiered levels of exemplars to progressively challenge us, for we do. Each person who finds their pride (again, pride : good pride, human pride, not arrogance) is an inspiration. Elders who have ripened into their years are a higher level of inspiration. Then there are the heroes of old, whose bold deeds proved beneficiary long into the ages, and set a high mark for which to strive. Beyond this, there are the almost forgotten patriarchs and matriarchs of old : in our tradition, Mannus and his sons, his own father Scyld (and all their matrons, whose songs as late have been too seldom told), and behind them, the god Scef, which brings us to the Gods, who set the standard higher than perhaps many or most of us could reach, and yet which is worthy of the reach for what it may teach, for the Gods are human in the most expansive, full, complete, and ripened way one could imagine.
Even Baldur differs from a saint per se, though he has a saintly quality, because the humanity of his great love, the strength of his kindness, and the warmth of his always fair yet merciful judgements touches something inside every heart that is still alive and sets aflame a strong and fervent yearning to rise to the occasion and follow in his footsteps of old. We know we may not be able to do so fully, for the cracks of the faultlines set in play by the earth-quaker so long ago can be deep, and they reverberate throughout this world and even within ourselves at times. Yet Baldur was a healer, and so we are called, when his bold example inspires us, to also apply warmth and wisdom towards healing of the cracks. And the first gift of healing is to hold the vision clearly of the cracks being healed, and to not lose sight of that for all the faultlines so evident and visible. As it stands, in this world we may have to turn to Tyr more often than Baldur, for our rights are often under assault, and there is honor to be won both in the defense of rights we retain and the active reclamation of those rights still ours yet absconded by those who have righteouslessly usurped them. Yet even in strife, in this strife-strewn world, we keep alive in our deep, deep hearts the someday-healing sure to happen, and this brings us a secret gladness at which many may curious wonder.
The Gods in Council collectively radiate each of those qualities of human being that are a part of our wholeness, demonstrating how those qualities may be perfected and completed, for their divine ond breathes through us as well. There is an exemplar for each of us to craft our roughness, however it may be, into gifts, so the rich wildness within us becomes human, and not inhuman.
So we have multiple levels of exemplars from low to high to goad, inspire, and egg us on to reach for our highest capacity (ies), and this is good, because it feels good as a human being to find our fullness, even in the inevitable risings and fallings of life, and to be surrounded by those who, step by step, proud and hard-earned deed by deed, are striving for the same, and meeting it. Now that is a cause for pride!