White Hats and Rodeo Crowns
As the royal couple enjoy / endure a chaotic tour of Canada from coast to coast, from the pomp and spires of Parliament to the burnt-out shell of Slave Lake, one can't help being a little intrigued by the near-universal acclaim and adoration they continue to receive, even in a day and an age when Canadians in particular and world citizens in general have abandoned respect for so many of the institutions of civilized society.
With every schoolgirl a blogging journalist and every schoolboy a critic of society's failures, a general respect for authority and those entrusted to exercise it has dwindled. Indeed, at times, when the live tweets and streaming video record the sweeping away of virtue and any trace of order and conscience (the Vancouver riots or the gang-rape of a young girl turned sex-object) the raw nerve of a generation robbed of innocence throbs and flashes before us and threatens to never recede. At such times, it would be easy to believe the dam has been breached and every moral principle will soon be swept away. Yet somehow, the waters subside, the air clears, the police cars again roll past upright on their four wheels; new glass is installed, the shelves fill up again, and there is enough space between pedestrians for each to think his own thoughts, not the thoughts of a mob.
A few sleeps go by. Sure one hears of the long line of witnesses and shamefaced rioters facing charges and dealing with the aftermath of their one-night stand with madness. But across the land, the cameras find more pleasant scenes and more gracious words to follow. And little by little, the landscape changes. The crowds—can they be the same?—now strain to catch a glimpse of Will and Kate in an incredible variety of ventures and experiences. Now they're getting off a plane. How do they do that? It turns out very much like other folks. Now they're receiving flowers…very graciously. Now they're sharing compassion with those who lost their homes in the Slave Lake fire…very sincerely. Now they're receiving the White Hats of honour in Calgary…very properly.
It's marvellous to see the eyes of Canadians turned to behold their future king…with admiration, respect and yes, expectation. An expectation of goodness. An expectation of propriety and dignity. An appreciation of the simplicity which somehow surprises one. In fact, although the vessel is holy, it is in fact the common vessel of mankind.
What is it that urges Canadians to hold their king in reverence and awe? Is it not a deep-down awareness and even a desire to believe that there is, in fact, such a thing as royalty? There is, in fact, such a thing as honour? There is, in fact, such a thing as virtue, noble bearing, fitness for ruling and a place where mortal flesh carries with it the austere authority of another realm?
We ought to thank God for this breath of quietude, this captured frame of innocence, this diversion from the tyranny of a constant and violent barrage. Enjoy the collage of Canadiana served as a tray of morsels to these regal mortals. I'm glad they're enjoying the Stampede and that they've had a laugh or two with Mr. Harper.
I'm glad that little girls with pretty little curls (and some with no curls) have been able to give bouquets to Kate and curtsey and feel her embrace. They'll remember and cherish those moments. As they grow up and in their old age, they'll have special stories to tell—to their classmates, their children and grandchildren. It's a good thing to paper our collective memories with near-fairytale stories of duchesses and kings.
And what—in the wider scheme of things—are Canadians and all peoples craving in the kingdoms of this world? They're craving that those kingdoms might become (and appear to become) the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. The hope of a lost race is the Return of the King. The masses are in agitation and agony, the waves of the sea are in tumult because the King has not yet been crowned and does not yet walk our streets in splendour. Here we catch a glimpse of glory, at least in our imaginations.
The peoples of this world and the peoples of Canada know that when He appears in all His glory, the sadness, the darkness, the chaos, the divisions, the disappointments of this world and this age will be settled and displaced by knowledge, wisdom and justice. If a couple of mortals can serve as placeholders for the hopes of man until our nation again sets all its expectations on a just and righteous King…then let them be for our people—and especially for our young people—actors in a grand fairytale that ends in a coronation, a solemn assembly, a great supper and a just realm. We live in shadows but insofar as those shadows point to reality, we can enjoy their casting.