Monday, December 17, 2012

The Siege Perilous

In the Arthurian legends, Merlin built a chair to be placed at the Round Table and reserved for that Knight who would successfully fulfill the Quest for the Holy Grail. This seat was called The Siege Perilous.

When I was 17 years old, I self-consciously embarked on my quest to become the person God created me to be, and to discover my arena of achievement where I would do what I was called to in this world. At that time I had no idea how arduous the quest would be, as all quests are. I thought I had taken off on a 100-yard dash. It took me years to realize that it was a marathon up a steep mountain path lined with Mordreds who wished to poison my soul, dragons that wanted to devour my world, and Black Knights who wanted to either dissuade or destroy me. More dangerous than all these enemies was my own heart, however, where I had to battle faithlessness, fear, and idealism.
At 17 years old, I was clueless regarding just how absolutely necessary steadfastness and endurance were going to be in my quest. I was not even faintly aware that I had embarked upon The Siege Perilous, where there was no yellow brick road lined with blue Smurfs cheering me on as I blissfully sauntered my way toward the Holy Grail. I had no idea as to the nature of the ordeals I would have to pass through, if I were to successfully achieve my quest at the end of my days. 
In my 20’s I would write in my journals about the adventures ahead, the glory of the battles, and the victories that would be achieved. It never occurred to me that one day I would be writing in my journal about how grateful I am just to be surviving. Some days, some years, “victory” is when you are still standing, still breathing, still hanging on.
In my 20’s I could not imagine being the man who, just days before turning 60, would write in his journal: I am a frayed and frail survivor in a splintered wreck of a world where I have done my fair share of splintering and wrecking. Every day I live is a gift of mercy where I am permitted to crawl and claw my way through the hours seeking to be true to my quest. I am more shocked over the fact that the Great and Good God is still giving us time to seek for Love, Truth, and Goodness, than I am by evil. I pray daily against hardness of heart, hopelessness, and the terror of love and the vulnerability it requires. In other words, I pray for Faith, Hope, and Love. My heart breaks for the broken, is thrilled by seekers of Truth, and is filled with joy whenever I encounter those bloodied and scarred survivors who heroically refuse to give up on their quests. With God’s grace, I intend upon being such a survivor.
            The ordeals we face test our resolve and commitment to the quest and are used to shape us into the individuals we were meant to become. The battles we fight can serve to strengthen our faith, hone our skills as warriors, and impart greater wisdom. The longer we stay with The Siege Perilous, the more humble we become: the slower we are to judge others, the quicker we are to offer words of encouragement, and the deeper our awareness of just how utterly dependent we are on God’s grace.            
            In Stephen R. Lawhead’s, Grail, just before Arthur and his Knights were about to engage in the battle for the Holy Grail, Merlin stands and declares: “Hear, Men of Britain, Valiant Ones … the Head of Wisdom speaks. Heed and take warning … the battle is joined, and every man who would achieve the quest must face many ordeals. Be not dismayed, neither be afraid, but face the trials to follow with all forbearance, for the Swift Sure Hand upholds you, and the Holy Grail awaits those who endure to the end.”
            Face the trials and do not run from them. Own the defeats and learn from them. Take time to celebrate even the smallest of victories, and then get back onto the path of your quest. The battle has been joined. The Sure Swift Hand will uphold you as you endure to the end, where the Grail of your quest will be waiting for you.

Copyright, Monte E. Wilson 

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