Christianity and Middle-Earth

Monday, October 25, 2004

In Beslan

I think I’ve figured out how to get the tenured and imperious elite in our courts, media and universities to swing over to Terri Schiavo’s side: just tell ‘em that embryonic stem cell research would make her rise from her bed and walk. Amen, sister!

(This subject may not seem to have anything to do with The Lord of the Rings, but I can assure you that it does. I’ll give you a hint: ”You have my sword!”)

But until we’ve got that little detail ironed out, those of us who are both disabled and so obstinate as to not want to be starved to death for the convenience of society will continue to wave our sword-sticks…er, canes at the Efficiency-mongers. And quote scripture.

“I was a-hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink.”

Hence this essay:


In Beslan, mothers weep for their dead children.

Fathers weep, too, as do siblings and neighbors. But there is a grief in losing a child that I suspect no father, however much his love for his son or daughter, can truly comprehend: regardless of the width and breadth and depth of his care for his offspring, it was not he received life into his body, felt it grow and move and strengthen, carefully guarded beneath the beating of his own heart to hold it safe until one day, through pain and anguish and joy, life multiplied a thousand-fold was given back into the world.

I suspect also that this is such a powerful instinct – the intense maternal need to carry and protect and nourish a child and hold it cuddled and close and safe – that it is triggered in an adoptive mother in a way that is even fundamentally different from the experience of the adoptive father. My husband was adopted and I would not recommend that you get between my mother-in-law and her child.

In Beslan, unwary mothers sent their excited children off to the first day of school. Children usually are excited on the first day of school – new clothes, new crayons, new teacher, maybe new friends. Happy childhood things.

And then, because men slavering for power and willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to gain it, so that they can force their Mordor-version of utopia on the world, said, “Take them hostage”, suddenly those innocents were in hell. For days, they were terrified, brutalized, starved of food and drink, and then shot as they tried to escape.

Which one of those mothers would not have willingly changed places with her child?

In ancient Israel long ago, mothers wept for their dead children.

Their arms, mysteriously fashioned in just the right way to hold an infant safe and beloved against the nourishing breast and the reassuring familiarity of its mother’s heartbeat, were abruptly empty.

Because a man craved power above all things and those little lives were in his way.

When Christmas comes and you, mothers of America, are tucking presents into stockings and wide-awake children into bed, and the tinsel and glitter and excitement are on hold - til 5:00 a.m.if you’re lucky - perhaps the Nativity scene you so faithfully haul out of storage each year will catch your eye as you’re turning off the tree-lights to go to bed. Perhaps for a moment, you will be suddenly reminded of the whole point of the exercise, that 2000 years ago a weary young woman labored to bring a man child into the world.

And guess what?

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

Which one of those mothers would not have willingly changed places with her child?

In Ramah was there a voice heard,
lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
and would not be comforted,
because they are not.

In America today, there is a mother weeping for her child because a man finds his disabled wife inconvenient.

That mother is willing to pay for and provide all needed care for her daughter, but that’s not good enough for him. For whatever reason, he wants his wife dead. And the courts – judges who crave omnipotence and omniscience so much that they put political expediency and theory before the concrete, desperate, frantic love of a mother for her child – are happy to oblige him. By starving her to death.

December 6th is the new execution date.

And if Terry Schiavo’s repellent husband succeeds in murdering her, I wonder if you, whoever you are, will remember in the middle of your brief Christmas musings on the Star over Bethlehem, that in America a woman weeps because you had things to do and errands to run and political opinions and your fixation on what you want and what you think you deserve, and so you couldn’t be bothered to help call down the fury of the citizenry on the heads of the self-righteous and power-mad judges who would leave a mother laden with a grief that cannot be comforted.

Because her child is not.


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