Friday, September 27, 2013

links sewn together

Because my parents have been safely in Croatia wandering around Diocletian's palace:
For Split is Diocletian's palace: the palace he built himself in 305, when, after twenty years of imperial office, he abdicated. The town has spread beyond the palace walls, but the core of it still lies within the palace gates. Diocletian built it to be within suburban reach of the Roman town of Salonae, which lies near by on the gentle slopes between the mountains and the costal plain. The site had already been occupied by a Greek settlement, which was called Aspalaton, from a fragment shrub still specially abundant here. In the seventh century the Avars, that tribe of barbarian marauders who were to provoke a currency crisis in the Middle Ages because they looted so much gold from Eastern and Central Europe and hoarded it, came down on Dalmatia. They swept down on Salonae and destroyed it by fire and sword. The greater part of the population was killed, but some had time to flee out to the islands, which gave them the barest refuge. What they suffered in those days from cold and hunger and thirst is still remembered in common legend. In time they crept back to the mainland, and found nothing left more hospitable than the ruins of Diocletian's palace. There they made shelters for themselves against the day when there should be peace. They are still there. Peace never came. They were assailed by the Huns, the Hungarians, the Venetians, the Austrians, and some of them would say that with the overcoming of those last enemies they still did not win peace; and during these centuries of strife the palace and the fugitives have established a perfect case of symbiosis. It housed them, they are now it's props. After the war there was a movement to evacuate Split and restore the palace to its ancient magnificence by pulling down the houses that had been wedged in between its walls and columns; but surveyors very soon found out that if they went all Diocletian's work would fall to the ground. The people that go quickly and darkly about the streets had given the stone the help it gave them. Black Lamb Grey Falcon, p. 138-139

They missed this whole terrifying episode. But a family of ICA alumns were caught in the middle of it.

 "I don't know how she knew to do it but she did. She did what she was told and she went."
Seeing the little girl running towards him gave Mr Haji fresh impetus to continue helping people out.
"This little girl is a very brave girl," he said. "Amid all this chaos around her, she remained calm, she wasn't crying and she actually managed to run towards men who were holding guns. I was really touched by this and I thought if such a girl can be so brave ... it gave us all courage."
One by one, the Walton family emerged and ran with Mr Haji and other rescuers until they reached the police lines outside the mall.
I've been praying and worrying about how violent and evil humanity is, how all the cries for Peace usual end in war and distress. It's easy, of course, in my quiet corner of Binghamton to worry but not to see the action of God in each situation and circumstance, to think that he isn't hearing our cries and prayers. But I got it into my head to read Habakkuk yesterday and remembered this: 

"O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you"Violence!" and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
The  Lord 's Answer 
Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!"
The Work Habakkuk wanted to see God accomplish was safety and a cessation of war. Tragically, I'm sure he felt, but truly, the work God was actually doing was the sending of the Chaldeans. Many in our "peace" loving western world cannot accommodate a God who is sovereign over both war and peace, whose will is accomplished in every moment, every action. They, sometimes even I, prefer a weak, useless god to one who's work includes suffering and destruction. With each moment of chaotic violence the western church seems more and more ready to turn away from repentance and longing for God's mercy to a weak and useless god, crying out, along with everyone else, 'where is god? Why does he allow suffering?' 

But God is mighty to save those who turn to him. Repent and cry out to him. He is not far away. He is close at hand. He will not turn away from the one who trusts in him. 

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