Spider-man, Humble Roots, and staying close to the ground

Lessons from my favourite super-hero

Spider-man, Humble Roots, and staying close to the ground

Spider-man is my favourite superhero. He’s been my favourite ever since I watched the Amazing Spider-man cartoon in the 1990’s and his status as my favourite is memorialized in family photos of me jumping around in a cheap Spider-man costume. So when Spider-man: Homecoming promised a return to the young, wise-cracking spidey of my childhood cartoons and comics, I was excited.

I’m not a huge fan of the massive, interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe but I did find it lent a unique element to Homecoming. Peter Parker is a far, far cry from being an Avenger, and because the big, important Marvel universe goes on around him, Peter Parker looks even smaller by comparison. This, I think, is the story’s greatest strength.

Humans can be heroes, but we will always be human

This isn’t a review of Homecoming (but you should see it), instead it’s a little story about unlikely coincidences. After seeing the movie, I reflected on what I liked most about it and fixed on one quote in particular:

Do me a favour — can’t you just be a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man? Just stay close to the ground.

Tony Stark reminds Peter he’s small-time; he can’t make it with the big heroes doing real heroism. Oh course, Peter hates this and wants to prove himself, and by the end of movie he learns a very important lesson, a lesson I keep relearning and learning anew—humility. Not the easy I’m just a guy trying my best; success is a blessing kind of humility, but the hard Maybe it’s time to scale back my dreams kind.

Screenshot from Spider-man: Homecoming
Screenshot from Spider-man: Homecoming

I want to prove myself, just like Peter. So I take on more than I can handle, say yes to everything, and heap guilt on myself when I feel overwhelmed by problems that can’t compare to other people’s real problems.

I wish I was a hero, instead I’m just some guy—but damn do I wish I was hero.

It was in this weird place of wanting to do more, accomplish more, and be more that I picked up Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson and made some unexpected links between my childhood superhero and a working stay-at-home mom from rural Appalachia.

Humble Roots follows her equally worthwhile book Made for More, and explores how remembering our common humble roots can both help to heal us and hold us in place, close to the ground, if you will. Anderson’s words apply to me as much as they do to Spider-man.

Click this graphic to go to the Amazon listing for Humble Roots
“…we must never forget that looking like God does not mean that we are God. We are made in His image, but we are made nonetheless.”

Just like Peter Parker, I’ve got room to grow, but big dreams about the future can get in the way of faithfully working right here, right now. Would it even be so bad if Spider-man stayed in Brooklyn, faithful and rooted, a friendly neighbourhood Spider-man?

I’m sure the people of Brooklyn wouldn’t mind.

Learning to stay close to the ground

In writing as in web-slinging it’s easy to focus on the credits or career you want to have instead of the unfinished pitches and contracts you do have, but this is a lesson that extends far beyond my vocation for me. It’s a lesson I expect to spend my whole life learning—who I am and who I’m made for.

This quote from Humble Roots puts it better than I can:

“…we must learn about our roots. And we learn this by encountering Jesus Himself. Through His humanity, we learn what ours is supposed to be. Through His deity, He enables us to be what we are supposed to be. And when we are, when we exist as God has intended us to exist, we will find rest.”

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