Copyright
A. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) Walsh.

Mary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus online

. (page 36 of 40)
Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 36 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


and explanations. The rest you know.”

“And you have allured, comforted and enlightened her?”

“By God’s help, I have. I have told her of the universal sisterhood, of
all women, who take as their exemplar the worthy mother of the One who
proclaimed the universal brotherhood of man. This knowledge is her joy
and inspiration. When I am with her, she never tires of hearing of the
‘Queen of David’s House,’ the mother of mothers.”

“But how have you allured her hither, Miriamne?”

“You have questioned curiously with your eyes, at least, concerning those
gated alcoves and curtained balconies in our Temple of Allegory. They
helped her!”

“Since you say they are not ‘Confessionals,’ as I call them, tell me what
they are?”

“‘Rock clefts’ our sisterhood calls them; some are doors to little
adjacent chapels; some are quiet resting places, where, in impressive
solitude, souls in prayer may find the mountain manna, for which the
Savior sought in many a lone night-watching; and some are places where
are presented, under entrancing symbols, exalting truths.”

“Words have failed to turn the world to faith: may signs do better.”

“I’ve put truth into visible form, that they who get it here may learn
that truth thus is only up to its full might. I’d have my followers
believe in visible, not phantom, truth; so believing, truth will not be a
ghostly proclamation, the toy of the mind, but a force moving hands and
hearts!”

“And you have met Nourahmal’s case?”

“Yes; fully in what we call the ‘Lover’s Bower,’ yonder. Remember she has
been the victim of mock love, from first to last.”

“The ‘Lover’s Bower’?”

“Behold the trophy and the bower! There is Nourahmal, now rapturously
contemplating the picture of Joseph putting the ring of espousal on the
hand of the Virgin Mary.”

“Nourahmal? That gray-haired, hard-faced woman, holding the hand of a
charming girl?”

“That is Nourahmal; the younger woman is Beulah, her grand-daughter; they
two are almost inseparable now.”

“An oleander by a limestone cliff! And so she takes her station by a
scene of betrothal, forgetting that hymen’s altars can be fired by youth
alone!”

“The world says so; but yet a disappointed life may sometimes learn why
it has been a failure, by studying the ashes of time gone in the light of
quickened memories.”

“What finds Nourahmal there?”

“Golden lessons. First for her grand-daughter, her idol. She never tires
of saying before yon picture to that maiden now her charge: ‘My flower,
my lamb, be always as pure as the espoused of Joseph, and you will be a
jewel which your husband, if he be a true man, will ever proudly wear on
as his heart. My flower, my lamb, no woman should leave all for any man,
unless she is certain of finding in him father, mother, brother, sister,
companion, as Mary found in Joseph!’”

“But how did these things bless Nourahmal herself?”

“Love counterfeited, blasted her life. She believed that it was only
gross passion masquerading in attractive, delusive colors. So believing,
it was difficult to tell her of the Love of God so she could realize
its wealth. Love was only great selfishness, excited and persistent, to
her mind. It was something to teach her that the genuine affection was
utterly otherwise; in fact the foundation and crown of all the noblest
sentiments implanted by God in His choicest creations.

“I have sought to allegorize here, true affection in all its perfection.
It seems to be fitting to do so, for my ideal queen was ruled by it. She
never could have loved to the depths she did, as a mother, if she had
not had within her being all the possibilities of woman’s love. And in
a rightly balanced woman love is all-impressive, all-controlling; with
her worship is loving and loving is worship. Here I shall seek to refine
that sentiment in the hearts of my sisters until each becomes an evangel
in its behalf. Then mankind will understand the wealth a woman bestows
on the man that wins her. There is nothing in her career that surpasses
it, except that sovereign act wherein she lays herself a convert on God’s
altar. I am seeking to exalt this sacred act, the loving of the gentler
sex, until all men, brought to revere it as they ought, shall become true
knights; until society shall be of one mind in crying traitor to every
man that contemns it in wedlock, and ready to lash naked around the world
every betrayer who awakens it in innocency to lead it astray.”

“I can only again exclaim, oh! how full of flowers and honey is my
Miriamne’s creed and gospel!”

“And the churchman so exclaims because I’ve put love where God put it, at
the front of religion’s cohorts! Can there be a religion worth the name
that does not masterfully meet the requirements of the relations most
sacred between human beings?”

As she spoke she led her husband under the splendid painting of Joseph
espousing Mary, toward the entrance of the bower, remarking: “This
vestibule, from the Roman word Vesta, Goddess of Purity, is suggestive.
Rome placed Vesta among the household gods, and was wont to have an altar
at every outer door. If Purity guard the door, Light and Love will dwell
within. See the laurel, emblem of victory, as the ancients put it by
Purity’s altar; so do I. Love, when pure, is all-victorious!”

“Miriamne, these old truths seem to me very charming as you now present
them; but can Nourahmal and others like her enter into their meaning?”

“A pious saint of our church says that the star which guided to Bethlehem
finally sank into a spring, where it may be yet seen by women if they be
pure.”

As they thus communed he passed through an arched doorway, and was
admitted to a grand court, three sides of which were inclosed by
the temple and two of its wings, the fourth side hedged by palms,
vine-interlaced. The sky was the roof, the carpet the floor of that
country. Just in front of the palm-hedge, on a grassy hillock,
conspicuous beyond all else, was a colossal stone face. It seemed as if
it had emerged from the earth, bald of all life—desolation expressed in
mute stone.

“Astarte here!” exclaimed Cornelius.

“Yes; that’s part of my Bashan inheritance, from Kunawat, the land of
Job.”

“A woman and a devil beset him; (the two are in this face, methinks).
Its hideousness, as its import, seems inappropriate in Love’s Bower.”

“Yes, ’tis hideous now, though once the face had beauty. It is not futile
for young-love to remember that time gouges deformity into beautifulness,
nor for all to remember how the Kings of the East in Moses’ time
overthrew the Rephaim, the fallen giant followers of the goddess. The
East is the home of light, and light is fateful to evil lives. Where are
the Astarte-devotees now?”

As the man listened his eyes wandered to the place where the palm grove
came up against the temple wing, and there he observed a purling ribband
of water.

“Cornelius sees my poem of silver. It comes from a grove of cedars and
sharon roses, out of a spring in the bosom of a hill. Look the other way.
It passes under the alcove, under the temple wall; a short, dark passage
brings it to liberty, ending in the Virgin’s Pool of Kidron. The sun
allures it up to the clouds at last. But listen; it sings as it runs!”

“I hear many blending melodies.”

“Do you see that canopied dais? There the instructor, or preacher if you
will, stands. The stream passes near it, getting impulse by a fall; true
love is speeded when it runs by truth. That’s my lesson. Then there are
Æolian harps this side and that of the dark alcove, the latter the type
of the tomb.”

“But why?”

“True love has music both sides of the grave.”

“Mystic!”

“Interpreter, say.”

“But I hear the songs of birds?”

“There they are, this side the dark exit: but in a cage, supported above
the current by an hour-glass and sickle.”

“Grim emblems.”

“Yes; but it’s a grim truth that love’s joy notes here are caged,
hampered and transitory. The hour-glass and sickle are, when those notes
are sung, ever.

“Look to the West.”

“I look, and see nothing but the picture of a sunset.”

“Yes, and that curtains the ‘Rest of the Aged’ in our temple.”

“But whither am I led by these words?”

“Led to look toward sunset, for morning, by faith. You remember the
Christ was never old; neither are they who draw their life from Him. The
‘Ancient of Days’ not only has, but gives, eternal youth. Oh, there were
young men at His sepulcher; yet those angels could count their years
by centuries! Let the hour-glass make record and the sickle reap; the
passion flower recalls a vernal life, where the oldest saints are the
youngest, where all existence is growth, refreshment, glory, exultation!
There, love is law and law is love, and to love is to live and to live is
to love. We get a breath of this life here as we enter the vicinage of
the immortal pair, Jesus and Mary; and we get a distant view of the whole
from the mountains of the gospel.”

“I believe, and yet sometimes start back at the question, ‘What if, after
all, at the end almost of eternities there come monotony, decadence,
satiety—death?’ Next after hell, and nigh as horrible, is annihilation;
and worst of all, eternal existence with nothing for which to strive—a
living death!”

“They say, that in Egypt, a palm bowed to give shade to the mother, Mary;
while the aspen refused to her any comfort. Then Christ blessed the palm
and it became the fruitful evergreen, while the aspen leaf is fated to
the end of time by constant tremblings to betoken the agues of a cursed
life. But, under the sun in submission, our aspen lives are turned to
palms! We, having His life, need never tremble at death, for we shall
ever throb with a loving like His.”

“But there are many conditions and needs to womankind. Let us speak of
these, since the present is hers, the future God’s.”

“The knights vainly tried swords; my King promised to draw all men to
Himself. You told me how Sir Galahad, the pure knight, had made, about
the Holy Grail, when he found it, a chest of precious stones and gold.
Now, I’ve found the virgin pattern of perfection, representative of the
human-like beating heart of God. Here I’ve set her, exalted her. This
shall be her golden precious palace. Though dead, here shall be presented
in the grandeur of her character, the sweetness of her power. By and by,
it may come about that all mankind akin, shall make it the chief duty of
Church and State, to care, with a loyal tenderness, for all women, all
children, from first and last; that not one such shall be left miserable.
That will be the world obeying the Crucified’s, ‘Behold thy mother.’”




CHAPTER XXXIX.

CROWN JEWELS.

“The VIRGIN MARY unquestionably holds forever a peculiar
position among all women in the history of redemption.
Perfectly natural, yea, essential to a sound religious feeling,
it is to associate with Mary, the fairest traits of maidenly
and maternal character, and to revere her as the highest model
of female love and power.”—PROF. PHILIP SCHAFF’S _Church
History_.


“There’s a footman at the door; the good man that talks, I think; he
would speak with Cornelius.”

With such words, at sunrise one morning a few weeks after the May-day
service, the missioners of Bethany were aroused by an attendant. Quickly
robing himself, the young chaplain went forth, and, sure enough, the
Hospitaler stood before him.

“Selamet; but what haste brings our ever-welcome friend so early?”

“To relieve your minds! I’ve purchased immunity! The Mameluke sheik, at
Jerusalem, has secured the Sultan’s revocation of the order of razing and
banishment,” answered the knight. Cornelius gazed at the Hospitaler with
anxiety, questioning within himself as to whether the knight had taken
leave of his reason or not.

The abrupt soldier-priest perceiving the perplexity of his hearer broke
forth: “Why the edict that the Temple on the hill be despoiled, and
the ‘Angels of the Mount’ be summarily driven out of Syria, has been
rescinded; the ‘Faithful,’ as those infidels style themselves, have been
converted; seen a great light which came by mighty gold.”

“All Saints defend us! I did not hear of this. Tell me all!” exclaimed
Cornelius.

“Not now; the peril is past. I knew it was impending sometime, and
supposed ye did. I promised a reward, if time were given. I got money
help from foreign knights. The vandals took it with a mighty thirst, and
then with a great show of piety promised toleration.”

“I see, as usual with them, great gain with godliness is contentment; but
what are we on the mount to do?”

“Go on; the Sultan isn’t God, nor his sheik the Devil.”

“The Hospitaler comforts. Now let us enter and breakfast together, that
we may get wisdom by conferring.”

“I may not tarry longer; I staid all night without the city’s wall so
as not to be delayed by awaiting the gate-opening. I must be with my
companions by the time the Moslems have ended their first prayers, or my
comrades will be alarmed. I’ll return to-morrow.”

Another dawn, another noon, and another sunset, came and went; but the
knight did not reappear at Bethany. The chaplain vainly tried to suppress
his anxiety. He feared some treachery on the sheik’s part. Again and
again the former went to the house-top to look along the Jerusalem road.
It was a hot June day; the watchings flushed the young man’s face but
fears’ rigors in the heart paled it. He was a picture of misery. Darkness
followed sunset; then came tidings:

“There’s a company with garlands and torches coming around the bend!”

The news was brought by a company of Sisters of Bethany. The missioner
was excited, yet reasoned:

“Garlands and torches! Their bearers can not have baleful report nor evil
designs.”

The visitants quickly arrived, and singing a roundelay, encircled the
house of Cornelius and Miriamne. With delight the latter recognized the
Hospitaler and his companion knights. With them were a number of the
friends of the new movement at Bethany. They also observed, standing by
his camel, a little aloof, a tall, gaunt man, garbed as a Druse; by him,
an elderly woman, and also a maiden.

“’Tis Nourahmal and her grand-child!” whispered Miriamne, following her
husband’s questioning eyes.

“The maiden wears the flower crown of a bride, and see, there is a young
man by her side!”

The Hospitaler interrupted their converse:

“I’ve kept my promise to the ‘Angels of the Mount’ and to God. I’m here,
and to celebrate a proper thanksgiving!”

“Welcome! Now command us,” exclaimed Miriamne. “Yea, welcome, though
coming in mystery!”

“Another surprise, good chaplain? Well, ’tis fitting, since this one
is cheering. There was need of offset to thy painful astonishment of
yesterday. I’ve trapped a wolf for our festivities.”

“A wolf!” exclaimed Miriamne.

“Yes, even the sheik. He swore that he’d make all Bethany bald by fire
and sword if it were attempted here to establish a Christian church. To
him I explained that the work on the hill was festal. Praise God, it
is to be such, to all eternity! And Miriamne’s disavowal of the title
church, the use of the appellations ‘Pool of Bethesda,’ ‘House of Mercy,’
‘Temple of Allegory,’ and the like, by your followers in the city,
concerning your place of gathering, helped the righteous diversion. I
finished the argument by parading with my cortege, as you see us now.
Indeed I even asked the sheik to come to the wedding!”

“A wedding?”

“The cruel sheik invited?”

“Two questions and two questioners to be answered with more surprises.
Nourahmal’s grand-daughter, Beulah, is to be joined to a Jewish convert!
I asked the sheik to attend with us as one of her next akin; for I
believe him to be a son of Azrael, though he denies that parentage, as
well he may, since the ‘Angel of Death’ was strangled at Bagdad for
treason. Be assured, Miriamne, the young Mohammedan will not be present
at our ceremonies to-night!”

“Will wonders never cease?” spoke Cornelius, at a loss to know what to
say.

“No. Let us be going now,” abruptly spoke the Hospitaler.

“Do you return to the city so soon?” queried Miriamne.

The question was answered indirectly:

“Let’s to the temple, or ‘House of Bethesda.’ I’ve taken the liberty to
order its illumination. Come, we’ll see how its jasmines climb on its
sturdy walls by the light of the torches kindled for hymen!”

So saying, the Hospitaler turned in the direction mentioned, and all,
including the missioners, followed him. The scene was fairy-like. There
were lights and flowers and songs. The feasters from Jerusalem were in
holiday attire, and those of the villagers that joined in the concourse
were hearty participants in the festivities.

Arriving at the temple, the Hospitaler led Beulah toward the speaker’s
dais.

“Will not the camel-driver enter?” questioned the knight of a companion.

“No; he’s half way back to the city by this time.”

“Stand by thy other self,” said the knight to the Jewish groom.

The latter obeyed with alacrity; his zeal and his bashfulness precluding
grace of action.

“Four hands clasped; crossed,” said the Hospitaler.

The twain did as commanded, the youth with avidity, the maid with a
timorous, modest reserve. The touch of each, electric to the other, was
recorded in their faces, over which passed rapidly a poem of emotion. The
audience became silent, hushed by admiration akin to adoration. The old,
old, yet ever new, ever-entrancing spectacle of love’s full crowning,
brought to all minds the splendor and holiness of that royal gift
which finds in earth its completest unfoldment in wedlock. Each of the
auditors, conscious of admiration of the presentment, was also conscious
of self-approving. There is a cleansing of conscience like that which
follows prayer in the act of heartily approbating the thing which is good
and beautiful. With the espoused for his inspiration and his background
of light, the Hospitaler, with his usual abruptness, began addressing the
assembly:

“You of the East hear best when your eyes are treated together
with your ears, hence I speak at this time, most propitious, of
themes pertinent. You have heard how the ancient Romans named
this month, deemed by them favorable to marriage, Junonius, in
honor of their chaste and prudent goddess of conjugal life.
She was the _Hera_ of the Greeks, the only lawfully wedded
goddess of all their mythologies. The myths prove that those
pagans discerned the potency and beauty of holy wedlock. They
polished jewels and wove girdles for its personifications, and
to-night, in this temple dedicated to womanhood at her best,
I’d take the girdle and crown and place them upon the Queen of
Women, the peerless Virgin. For such a real woman the ancients
were seeking when they had their dream of the myths. She was
what they yearned for, and her exaltation as the representative
of all that she truly did represent, will be found of lasting
profit to all. Behold her, an orphan girl, yet by faith having
an Eternal Father. As a girl, abhorring waywardness; as a
woman, therefore, free from wantonness. Mark me, ye maidens,
the wayward becomes the wanton. Coquetry brushes the down
from the cheek of the peach, and she that frivolously plays
with passion in the morning will be likely to seek the groves
of Astarte at noon. Our ideal woman reached maidenhood’s
roses all portionless, as world-help is counted, but with the
inestimable affluence of prudence, constancy and purity. Thus
she set the finest youths of all Jewry to striving for her
heart and hand. What Juno was to Rome, Mary was to Israel. The
Romans proclaimed their faith in the good wife as the producer
and conserver of wealth by putting their mint in their temple
of ‘_Juno-Moneta_.’ The carpenter of Nazareth, building up a
clean, honest, though humble home, by the aid of his consort,
built more enduringly, and presents a finer historical figure,
than that once mighty, once wise Solomon; though the latter
erected the wondrous Temple. The home and love of Joseph and
Mary will be praised by the ages that abhor the ivory houses
of pleasure of the great and fallen king. The story of that
home life at Nazareth has not been written, and we must gather
it from fragments and eloquent silence. Mary’s jewels as a
wife were unostentatiously treasured within the four walls of
her domicile. The devastating tornado leaves enduring, though
hateful history; but the constant, man-blessing tides of the
ocean come and go without having their recurring blessings
recorded. So the constant, loyal, patient woman of Nazareth
passed noiselessly by in her day. Her exclamation to the Angel
of the Annunciation, ‘_Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be
it unto me according to thy word_,’ was the keynote of that
life ever enhanced by the beauty of duty. There was submission
to right because it was righteous. And this was not mere
passiveness. You remember how she challenged her Son in His
early youth, that time He was absent for a season from His
parents, at first without explanation? The words Mary spoke
that day burn like polished gems when considered aright: ‘_Why
hast thou dealt thus with us? Behold, thy father and I have
sought thee, sorrowing._’ She did not forget her Son’s divine
origin, but exalted the rights of motherhood and fatherhood,
confident that even Deity could not ignore them. She challenged
the right of a son to cause parental sorrow without instant
strong reason for so doing. She put her husband’s cause before
her own, and made his honor her sacred wifely trust. There are
in this history some very fine things expressed by implication.
We know the woman was beautiful and much younger than her
husband; the disparity of years did not hinder full affinity.
She did not fall into the weakness of feeling self-sufficient
and all-complacent because feeling pretty. All she was and all
she had was centred in her consort as a commonwealth between
him and her. That the sycophant and flatterer crossed her
path there can be no doubt; but she who was not intoxicated
by Bethlehem’s _gloria in excelsis_ could not be dazzled by
the honeyed words of mortals. Wearing such a wife on his
heart, Joseph was rich indeed. Silence is once more eloquent.
We know that the mother of Jesus, having been widowed, never
wed again. Her first love suffered no eclipse. That she was
courted, after her spouse’s death, we must believe. The mother
of a Son so famous as was hers, and the possessor of personal
charms enshrining a soul that knew how to utilize sorrows until
they became refinements, doubtless had many suitors in her
widowhood days. And there was no law forbidding her a second
marriage, except the unwritten law of fine sentiment; but to
the Queen of the House of David the law of fine sentiment was
all-controlling. All her heart was filled with love for her
husband, her Son and her Savior. When her consort died, the
niche in her heart that he occupied, the only part with room
for conjugal love, became a shrine. Its door was sealed then
until the final resurrection. Where such constancy exists there
is certainty of pure homes. Sanctity, chastity and faithfulness
were the lights of the temple, dedicated to the mythical Juno,
within whose precincts no impure woman was suffered to enter.
To-day I claim for the True Ideal all that was accorded the
mythical one.”

When the speaker paused, some of the men present broke forth, as was
the custom in the synagogue service, with an “Amen,” and some exclaimed
“Rabbi, thine are good words for our women to hear!”

The Hospitaler’s black eyes flashed; a hint of retort of lightning-like
directness to come. And it came, instantly:

“I shall fail of my duty if I give all to one-half. I shall



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 36 of 40)