Friday, May 27, 2011

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Often in life we are met with tragedies - the sudden death of a loved one, 
or they are struck with a terrible disease like cancer, alzheimers, parkinson's disease. 
Recently a family in our parish lost their mother to a stroke, when their father had already died suddenly several years ago. My own aunt is fighting multiple cancers. 
We ask ourselves why would God allow this to happen? 
Why is there innocent suffering?
My mother recently reminded me of this poem in answer to this question, 
The Charge of the Light Brigade. The poem tells the story of a group of soldiers sent
to their doom by their commander. Their commander made a mistake, and now
all of these soldiers are going to pay with their lives. But the soldiers charge bravely
to their death: "Theirs not to reason why, Theirs to do and die." 
Now, let me qualify this statement here. God does not make mistakes. 
God is an all-knowing, all-loving, all-perfect being. Believe me, it hurts Him
to see us suffer even more than it hurts us, because He loves us more 
than we love ourselves. No one knows but God why innocent suffering occurs -
we won't know until our death. But we have to trust that God has a greater plan.
He knows better than we do, and He turns the greatest evil into the greatest good:
He did it when Adam and Eve sinned, by sending His Son as the perfect, innocent Victim,
and brought about the Redemption of mankind.
We are called like the soldiers in this poem to trust in our Father, our Commander,
and to "ride into the Valley of Death," to follow His will, His plan, to whatever end.
If we do this to the best of our ability, then we shall receive our reward in eternity,
and share in the glory of Christ our Savior. Now, without further ado, The Charge of the Light Brigade.

John Everett Millais, Joan of Arc, 1865.
The Charge of the Light Brigade
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Half a league, half a league,
 Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
 Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
 Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
 Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
 All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
 Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
 Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
 Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
 Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
 All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
 Noble six hundred.

1 comment:

Bob Meixner said...

It seems to me that in allowing suffering God presents us with a great opportunity to 'put on Christ,' both in our acceptance of our own suffering, and in our efforts to alleviate the suffering of others. In either case we stand in for Christ on Earth and in the now.