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A. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) Walsh.

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

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“Father,” called out the son. The father rose to his feet and calmly
said: “My boy, pity me. I’m weak. But oh, you never knew what it is to
have your life sawn in twain and be compelled then to drag your half and
lacerated being along the over-clouded vales of an undesired existence!”

“My mother’s tomb?”

“Yes. I promised, as my last service to you, to bring you to it. Its
study shall be the finish of your schooling.”

Just then the clouds broke away and the moonlight fell full upon the
monument. It was a shaft, terminating in a crucifix; by its side were
two forms, one that of St. John, with face turned toward the figure of
the dying Savior; the other that of a woman kneeling, her face buried
in her hands. On the base of the cross was the brief sentence: “Behold
thy mother.” As the youth gazed on the farewell charge of Jesus to John,
when He commended to the care of that beloved disciple His sorrowing
mother, he started. It seemed as if the words had grown out of the marble
suddenly while he was gazing, and for himself only. He felt as if he
could almost embrace the stone.

The two men were silent and heart full. After a long time, they
simultaneously turned away toward Bethany. They came to a turn in the
road that would shut out all view of the garden of sorrow, and the elder
paused, loath to leave the place where his heart was buried.

Presently he spoke again, as if unconscious of any other being with him:
“Oh, Miriamne, I failed to carry out the work thou left’st me! How could
I, alone? I was but half a man without thee, my other self! Miriamne,
Miriamne, I can be only nothing when I can not be with thee.” Then the
old man lifted his hands as in benediction or embrace, and continued:
“Farewell, a last farewell, sweet, white soul, until upon the tearless,
healing shores of light I say good morning!”

There was a mighty pathos in the display of this old, ripe, strong grief,
which lived on a love that could not die. The man was a study. He was of
fine fibre, almost effeminate, never firm, except in his affection for
that one woman. That was the one strong trend, the one anchorage of his
life. He need not study the man far, who strove to know him, to discover
that this tenacity was not natural to him always. It had been a growth
under the influence of the peerless wife.

“Shall we go on?” after a little asked the son. With a shudder and a
suppressed sob the elder moved on, but with laggard step, which soon
paused. Just now, the moon being beclouded, it was very dark about them,
and the father reached out his hand and drew the youth to his embrace. He
whispered: “Winfred, son of Miriamne, you bear her image in your face,
bear it ever in heart, as well. I’m glad you’re not so like me.” The son
tried to speak, but the elder interrupted:

“You’ll ere long be fatherless as well as motherless, but take your
mother for your guiding-star. You know what your birth cost her. By her
death you obtained life, as by the Christ’s, immortality. She saved
others, she could not save herself; but if you’re true to her memory
she’ll have a mother’s immortality, that life that lives in the life of
her child.”

* * * * *

Let us gather up the _last_ threads of our story. After the death of
Miriamne, the “Sisters of Bethany” soon ceased to congregate at the
“House of Bethesda,” in the city on Olivet. Cornelius Woelfkin attempted
for a time to carry forward the work of the mission, but, utterly
miserable himself, he did not know how to bestow comfort on others; a
man, without the intimate companionship of the woman who had been his
inspirer, he had no discernment of the needs of woman, nor power to
interpret the truths that were in the Book or in nature, those garners of
manna.

The Hospitaler was sent for as an aid. He came but once, and then spoke
as kindly as he could to the women of Bethany and Jerusalem, and took his
farewell of them all, in closing words like these:

“The blessed Miriamne, child of Jesus, and emulator of Mary, has passed
away, but Christ her Comforter and Savior may be such to each of you,
that wills Mary’s example, as the inspiration of all women, can never
die. The world has been a battle-ground, and each of you can here see
over the whole field of conflict. Shall all pleasures be found under the
leadership of Bacchus and Venus, or in Him that is the God of Joy? Shall
woman echo the passions of man or the ‘_Magnificat_’ of Mary? Shall the
strength that man seeks be that of the giants, brute force; the strength
of woman be, in her youth the bewitchings of personal beauty, in old age
the cunning of the witch-hag? Shall it not rather be in the girdle of her
moral worth?

“The world needs to seek and find love, beauty and light. Some go after
it, vainly, as did the Egyptian devotees of Phallic Khem; to whom, with
pitiful incongruity, were offered rampant goats and bulls, decorated
with most delicate flowers. They called Khem the ‘God of births,’ the
‘beautiful God,’ but we know to put mothers on the throne as the
beautiful; their flowers, their jewels, their glories being their
offspring!

“Women of Jerusalem, never forget the Savior’s own words to the women
that envied His mother, crying that the one that bore Him and nursed Him
was therefore peculiarly blessed! His reply was: ‘YEA, RATHER BLESSED ARE
THEY THAT HEAR THE WORD OF GOD AND KEEP IT.’”

Then the Hospitaler, bending his eyes upon the pale-faced, widowed
missioner, continued: “I’ll tell thee a tradition of our Lord’s mother.
Doubting Thomas, laggard because doubting, came late to the burial-place
of Mary. He begged to have her coffin opened, that once more he might
gaze on the face of his Savior’s mother. It was done. But there seemed to
be nothing in that coffin except lilies and roses, luxuriously blooming.
Then, looking up, he saw the spirit of the woman ‘soaring heavenward in
a glory of light.’ But as she soared, she threw down to him her girdle.
Here is a beautiful parable. The graves of the holy are to memory full
of the ever-blooming roses of love and the lilies of purity. If we may
not have them we loved with us always, we may have the virtues with which
they engirdled themselves, for our conflicts.”

The Hospitaler paused, cast a glance of yearning tenderness upon the
assembled women and the heart-stricken Cornelius; then exclaimed:

“Long partings are painful. Farewell!” He glided away ere any could
clasp his hand. Not long after this event the Sheik of Jerusalem,
Azrael’s putative son, raided Bethany, razing the “Temple of Allegory”
to the earth. He was maddened because, after the disappearance of the
Hospitaler, there came to him no stipend to buy immunity for the
“Bethesda House” of the “Sisters of Bethany.” He despoiled it, hoping to
find a treasure therein, but though there was in and about the place a
great wealth, it was all beyond his grasp or ken, for he knew naught of
the worth or power of precious truths and precious memories. Cornelius,
after this, taking his infant son, soon departed from Syria. His dream of
evangelizing the world and the great designs of Miriamne faded from his
hopes, as the vision of universal empire has faded often from the hopes
of dying conquerors. For years he devoted himself to being father and
mother to his child. At last we behold him, as in the foregoing pages,
looking toward sunset. He stands finally in Bethany, his dismantled
home and Miriamne’s ruined temple not far away, her tomb close at hand,
himself like the fragment of a wreck; altogether presenting a sad,
dramatic tableau. He stands there as the last of the new “Grail Knights,”
the last of those who in his time were devoted to the new grail quest. It
was Saturnalia-time, and it was night.

“VIRGIN AND MOTHER OF OUR DEAR REDEEMER
...
IF OUR FAITH HAD GIVEN US NOTHING MORE
THAN THIS EXAMPLE OF ALL WOMANHOOD,
SO MILD, SO STRONG, SO GOOD,
SO PATIENT, PEACEFUL, LOYAL, LOVING, PURE,
THIS WERE ENOUGH TO PROVE IT HIGHER AND TRUER
THAN ALL THE CREEDS THE WORLD HAD KNOWN BEFORE.”

HENRY W. LONGFELLOW.




FOOTNOTES


[1] Jamison.

[2] The Magnificat.








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