Thursday, October 23, 2014

King, Queen and Castle

Once upon a time there a man who stood before YHWH.  Of all the men of the earth, this one man was righteous and sought out the will of YHWH, desiring to please Him and walk in His ways.  YHWH made him a king among men.  And the man stood among men.
But he was alone.
So YHWH showed him a woman who also sought out the will of YHWH, desiring to please Him and walk in His ways.  And the man married the woman and took her to a new and far off land.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Paolo and Francesca da Rimini, 1867

He bought her a castle, with grounds, and gardens, and trees.  He bought her seeds and tools, and chickens and goats.  He stocked the castle with blankets and clothing and food.  And he gave her many children.
The king urged his queen to never go beyond the boundary of their grounds.
Every day the man left the castle.  He went out to roam the earth, near and far, to seek out others who sought out the will of YHWH, desiring to please Him and walk in His ways.  He went out to stand in the gates of the cities, to cry out, "If you need rest, come to my place of safety.  If you need food, I will give you sup.  If you thirst, I will show you to the well that does not run dry."
He warned all who would listen, "TESHUVAH! Turn back to YHWH, who alone can save!"
Sir Galahad by Arthur Hughes, 1865-70

Sometimes he was unable to return swiftly.  Sometimes he was gone for days, or weeks, or months.  When he would come home, he was tired, and worn.
No one heeded his cry.
His wife and queen was unhappy though.  Why did he leave her so often?  Why did he lay so much duty on her?  Why did he not LOVE her as she loved him?  Why could she not leave the walls of this castle and cast off the weights of motherhood and her labors?  She felt so alone.
She cried and cried.  But she also prayed.  Because she had sworn and meant to do all that YHWH desired of her, all that was pleasing in His sight and to walk always in His way.  She swore, "No matter what it may cost."  And for many months she wept, and prayed, "Your will, not mine."
Her king still left every day and made all efforts to return each night.  Her king still stood righteous before YHWH, seeking His will, desiring to please Him and walk in His ways.  He loved his bride, but did not understand why her heart was sad and afraid.  He also prayed, that YHWH would give wisdom to them.
One day, the queen went to the boundary of her grounds and looked out.
And she saw.... the world.  She saw all men, corrupt before YHWH. (Genesis 6:11)  She saw vileness and violence, anger, greed, hatred, cruelty, blasphemy and great blindness over the whole of the earth.  Each man did his own will.  Each woman sought her own desires.  No one sought YHWH or desired to do His will or walk in His ways.  Turning around she saw her castle, once seen as a prison, to be a bright haven of peace in the midst of a raging world.  And as she stood there, looking at the world, and then her home, her king came trudging, wearily, back into the gates.
And she saw.... her king.  Righteous in the eyes of YHWH, desiring to do His will and walk in His ways.  Weary from calling to the lost and not being heard, weary from fighting against all man to keep this place, this small piece of dirt and rock, secure, hidden, safe and at peace.  Day after day, he roamed the far reaches to keep all enemies at bay.
For her.
The queen wept.  Her eyes had not seen, her heart had been clouded.  His love for her was not the love of endless embrace of young heated flesh, though even that gift was there often enough to take her breath away.
Teshuvah.  She repented all her thoughts and prayed for forgiveness for her words and actions that had hurt and further wearied her king.
And when she stood, she looked at her home anew.  Her home.  Her castle.  Her grounds and gardens.  her chickens and goats.  Her children.  Her eyes being opened saw, not heavy duty and bondage, but a place of freedom and peace.  A token of the enduring love of her King and YHWH.
Their last hour, Florence Harrison


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