Hidden Strength


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Hidden Strength
By Bobby Neal Winters

The old house down the street that had been empty for so long has some new tenants. It is a large family, and there are lots of kids and dogs running around in the yard now. There is a magic attached to large families, the magic of life going on. Maybe I shouldn't say "magic" because I don't believe in magic. Miracle is a better word.

Miracles are better than magic because they do happen. Whenever there is something, where before there was nothing, that constitutes a miracle, at least in my opinion. They call it creation ex nihilio. Families are created ex nihilio by their parents, and there is an invisible substance that holds them together, and when they hold together, it is a miracle.

Saints don't have a monopoly on miracles, mothers perform them all the time, but speaking of miracles, saints and such, the folks over at the Episcopal Church have a new statue of Saint Francis in front of their church. It is the latest in a line, all of its predecessors having been stolen. The previous statues were small guys that were no more than two feet tall, good stealing size. The new statue is four feet tall, which isn't too big to steal, either. However, the next people who attempt a theft will be surprised with a hernia as a portion of railroad rail has been bolted to the bottom and the combination has been set in concrete.

My Baptist brother and I were walking by there on Good Friday when I told him this story. He ruminated a bit and then said, "They'll just break it the next time."

This may be so. There is no telling what some people will do, but we can't let the possibility of the stupidity of others prevent us from living.

This same church has faced worse than stolen statues. Some of you will recall a few years ago some youths took it upon themselves to burn the Episcopal Church down, but a church is not a building, it is the people within the building and whatever glue it is that binds them together. This church has steel hidden within it and came back after its building was burned. They preserved what they could and replaced the rest. The whole disaster is just a burp in the history of the church. The Church is about eternity.

We in the church universal are called upon to test all things and cling to that which is good. There is a kind of conservatism at the core of this process, a conservatism that has its eyes on the far horizon, looking ahead. We are looking for truths that aren't just for today and tomorrow, but truths that will last forever.

In the modern age, we become impatient with this process. As Jim Morrison of The Doors screamed, "We want the world, and we want it now!" He now screams this in eternity, having been given too much, too quickly. We are like children who will throw a fit that delays a twenty supper by half an hour because we want to eat our dessert first. "Wait" is not in our vocabulary.

The church is crossways with this—excuse the pun—as it is not a modern institution or ought not be. The church universal has collected the ways of countless generations and countless places. The ways have been tested by time. Some have been kept, some have been thrown out, and some are put in the attic for possible use later. Taken together, we refer to these ways as "tradition."

Tradition is the hidden steel within the Church that keeps it from being carried off in random directions. G.K. Chesterton referred to tradition as "democracy for the dead." Those who have given their lives to the church deserve to be heard, and that does not end just because they can only now speak through things already done.

There will always be those who would like to make parts of the church disappear, but the weight of tradition keeps that from happening until its time.

(Bobby Winters may be contacted at bobby@okieinexile.com. His book, Grandma Dipped Snuff, is available from links to his website www.okieinexile.com.)
As a matter of curiosity, if you read the above with the gay Episcopal bishop in mind, do you see anything different?
Nope. :)

It seemed like an issue that was at least some part of the motivation for the piece. :)
Well, I do see it in a very different way now. ;)

If I may ask, where would you draw the line between miracle and magic?

Magic is something we have in our heads. In some sense, magic seeks to force God into our bidding. Miracles are different. The word that is translated as miracle could also be translated as "sign" or "wonder." Magic is fake. Miracles sometimes require the right eyes to see them.
Kindest Regards, okieinexile!

Another wonderful piece, thanks!

okieinexile said:
As a matter of curiosity, if you read the above with the gay Episcopal bishop in mind, do you see anything different?
To be honest, I did not recall that until after I read the piece. Reading it again with the refresher doesn't bring anything new to my particular reading. I liked the comparison with miracle to magic, and I suspect the statues were stolen by those with a certain view concerning "idols." At least, that is what I took away from the story.

While I may not consider statues as valid forms of worship (Thou shalt not have any graven images...), stealing them is equally invalid (Thou shalt not steal...). My two cents.

Thanks again.