What is a quest? A quest is a long and difficult search for something. It is an adventurous journey in which we seek something of value. The word quest is closely linked with the word question. Both involving a ‘not-knowing’ and a search to find, or find out, something.
The story of the knights of King Arthur who set out in search of the holy grail is a famous story involving a quest. Another story from ancient Greece has the idea of a quest at the heart of it…
Jason’s father was the King of Thebes, but one day, his own brother, Pelias, took the throne from him and threw him in prison. Pelias challenged Jason to find the famous Golden Fleece and bring it back to him. If he succeeded the King would return the crown to the rightful king.
Without hesitation, Jason took up the challenge. His first task was to find the finest ship builder in the land. When it was complete, he called his ship the Argo, which means swift, and he gathered up the greatest heroes from around the land. They would be called the Argonauts.
When they set out, he did not even know where to start looking for the golden fleece. On board the ship was a wooden figurehead, carved from a magical oak tree. As he rested his hand upon it, he could feel a throb, like a heartbeat. Suddenly the figurehead spoke: “Ask King Phineas where to go!”
As they feasted with Phineas a flock of hideous birds, called the harpies, flew through the window attacking Jason and his men. The brave warriors fought them off and they flew out to sea never to return.
Phineas told Jason where the fleece could be found, but warned him of the perils of the mission. The argonauts set off to the land of the Colchis, out beyond the clashing cliffs. Fire and boulders flew in this terrible place. Jason’s men sat trembling in their boats.
“Watch the seagulls!” cried Jason. “They know when the way ahead is safe. Follow them as they move”.
They negotiated the cliffs and arrived at the land of the Colchis, where the golden fleece was held. When they arrived, the King threw dragons teeth at Jason’s men. As each tooth hit the ground a warrior burst to life. Soon they were in the midst of a deadly battle. Gradually the argonauts overcame the dragon-tooth warriors. Now nothing stood between them and the golden fleece.
Except for the dragon.
The fleece hung in a beautiful garden, on the branch of great tree, guarded by the dragon. At the gate to the garden the King’s daughter, princess Medea appeared. She offered her assistance in exchange for marriage. Jason entered the garden and after a fearsome fight, slayed the dragon. He returned to his men on the beach with the golden fleece and king’s daughter.
When they returned to Thebes, Jason’s father released from prison, as the incredulous Pelias stepped aside. But Jason’s father, Aeson, refused to rule. He was too old and weary. The princess stepped in and gave him a magic potion and he became strong and young again. He emerged from a deep sleep with the energy of a young man and the wisdom of an old one. He ruled the kingdom justly.
Just like Jason we are all on our own quests in life. We are all searching for something. The question we need to consider is:
What am I searching for?
What is my quest?
What do I want to find out, learn or discover?
What is the golden fleece of my life?