Before the gods that made the gods
Had seen their sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale
Was cut out of the grass.
Not too far from Oxford in England there is an ancient mystery in a hill. Tribal people of the bronze age, perhaps some 3000 years ago cut a massive stylized figure of a horse into the top of the hill and filled it in with crushed white chalk so that it would endure – and endure it has until the present day. It would be kind of like if you took a sand trap from a golf course, but made it almost 400 feet long and you made it by hand. Now, the grass still tries to creep in and obscure this image that can only really be seen by the air, and so the people had to take great care to keep the grasses back, for during the periods when there was little interest in preserving the horse – the people suffered great problems and distress. It was in the time of their great diligence when they reached beyond themselves and cared for this strange offering to their gods that they were blessed.
There’s a poem that involves this horse, and a great battle between the earliest English Christians and the Vikings. And the Christians themselves have some respect and love for this horse, knowing that it was not built with Christ in mind – and yet they guard it all the same seeing in it a glorious reflection of God’s design. And they not only persevered, they cared more for the world that they were told not to live for than those who lived of it alone. Because the Christians lived in the world, but apart from it – drinking in faith, they were able to love the world that their Lord had died to save and to hope for even more.
I went and joined many from Holy Infant Parish yesterday at Planned Parenthood for the 40 Days for Life. If I could pick a theme song for that place of misery it would be “Welcome to the Jungle” from Guns and Roses. Most of the lyrics are too dark and frightening to bring up in this context and do not fit Church in general, but the one that strikes me so perfectly is “Welcome to the jungle it gets worse here every day/ Ya learn to live like an animal in the jungle where we play.” Each day our country gets deeper into this violence against women and children – and we devolve from a society back into various tribes that now totter so very close to open an all-out contest with each other.
The people driving into the clinic had no hope as they were screamed and whistled at by the clinic escorts to ignore the pro-lifers trying to give them information for an ultrasound. These people have been promised too little in life. That they will not even be able to make it as mothers in this world, because they will find no assistance – which is untrue….another verse of that battle poem goes:
Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.
Perhaps a temptation right now to harden ourselves. There is so much fear. There is so much anxiety about our future as a country and as the world in general. Apparently Nietzsche once told his readers to “be hard”. Chesterton replied by writing that “A great man is not a man so strong that he feels less than other men; he is a man so strong that he feels more.”
Why is it that we so often fail to do much? St. Therese of Liseux put it really simply: We obtain from God as much as we hope for from Him. And when we are comfortable we may not really feel the need to hope for our brothers or ourselves. Perhaps it’s the bleak election season from which no one is able to hide, but there was poverty on the sidewalk with those praying for life. Where there is poverty, there can be great hope and there was.
The woman in the Gospel today who goes to the unjust judge is a figure for the Church. Christ her husband, has died and while she awaits His return she goes to the judge and demands justice for her children. I can only think of the Supreme Court, another appropriate reflection of our society – and yet persistence eventually wins the day for this widow. What an encouraging parable for us to imitate – her unhindered desire and zeal for the truth.
There is a theology book that caught my eye the other day. The author was talking about how Christ did not come down to earth and become man merely to take away sin. The “motive can be no other than the boundless love which God display’s after man’s sin, contrary to all expectation and beyond all our notions,” he writes. So, getting rid of sin is just the beginning of God’s work. Perhaps we would like God so often to lift away our pain and then just leave us alone to enjoy ourselves. But that has never worked out very well in the past. The author goes on, “And further, we deny that the elevation of fallen man was the only end or at any rate the highest end, and that the love for man was the only motive or the highest motive of the Incarnation. The glory of Christ and of God Himself is the highest aim, and the love of God for Himself and for Christ is the highest motive of the Incarnation.”
You should have seen the feisty widow yesterday at Planned Parenthood. Today marked 100 years since Planned Parenthood was founded, but the Defenders of the Unborn contingent organized a large group to walk back and forth 7 times, like the Israelites in battle….they even produced two trumpets made of horns and blew them 7 times in various directions. The walls of Planned Parenthood did not crumble, but that was not the point. The walls of fear that held our hearts in siege were lifted with the mighty blare. God, may we become a people that loves You and one another to the glory of Your Name the Kingdom for our children.