A Real-Life Wonder Woman

We tend to think of high office as an honor to be sought and a reward to be desired. Yet no one in high office — such as sovereign or president or bishop or teacher or general — stands worthy before those entrusted to their care. Those who are chosen, having accepted the responsibilities of office, cannot but fail in the attainment of an ideal. Still, they can embrace that failure with wisdom, grace, strength, hope, and patient endurance, drawing forth something good and worthwhile from any situation they encounter.

The honor is also a burden

This thought came to me not long ago as I reflected on the trials of my ancestral homeland during the first half of the twentieth century. The murderous folly of the First World War saw Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde of Luxembourg forced from the throne, while the nation itself barely survived. Having only recently regained its rightful autonomy, Luxembourg well might have ended up once again as the property of one of the greater powers of the region. By sacrificing the throne in the wake of the First World War and ceding it to her younger sister, Marie-Adélaïde showed humility and wisdom in an age not known for either.

Like Queen Elizabeth II, Grand Duchess Charlotte was born a “spare” and not an heir, so her education and training did not prepare her in the ways one would expect for a future monarch. She was forced into exile along with her children during the Second World War in order to ensure that the entire royal family would not be exterminated by the Nazi-Fascists. While it pained her to be safe and secure while her people suffered brutally, she worked tirelessly to awaken powers like the United States to the realities in Europe. By saving herself and her family, she ensured the survival of the Grand Duchy.

Even today she is honored as a hero and a saint.

There is a famous photo (and even some video) of Charlotte on the balcony of the Grand Ducal Palace presenting herself to the people upon her return from exile. The massive crowd is seen weeping and cheering at her return, but it must have been a moment of joy tinged with sadness and regret. Surely she would have offered her own life in the place of those who suffered and died, but she was only one human being — a woman and not a titan — and therefore she could not stop the cruel fate dealt to an innocent and powerless people.

I imagine Charlotte crushed under the weight of the failure to live up to the impossibly noble and selfless expectations she set for herself when she accepted the crown. I have had this sort of experience in my own life, and perhaps you have, too. It happens quite often that I feel inadequate before the challenges of life or unworthy to undertake a certain path, but in those moments I think on Grand Duchess Charlotte on the balcony of the Grand Ducal Palace summoning more strength than she imagined possible. She was strong for a people who needed strength. She was fearless and composed for the sake of a nation that needed courage and order in the wake of war. I think that the cheering and weeping crowds understood that she had made of herself an Atlas, mighty enough to bear up the entire world. She was nothing more than a human being like the rest of us, but she became something like a titan in that moment when the world needed a titan.

Like Charlotte the Great, you and I are something like titans. If only we could see this reality in ourselves and in each other — how we would change the world and create something we never knew we could.

The Universe would be a better place because of us — imperfect, weak, flawed, and beautiful beings that we are!

(Photos above: Portrait of Grand Duchess Charlotte; Charlotte with Prince Felix at her abdication in favor of Grand Duke Jean; Prince Guillaume — heir of Grand Duke Henri — and Princess Stephanie; statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte. To me they are like Family — an invincible source of hope and strength.)

~BT Waldbillig
October 15, 2017

Nonsectarian Rituals for the Spiritual Family (Part 2)

N.B.: This represents an initial, unfinished attempt at the creation of a hypothetical ritual. It’s meant to be a model and not a finished product.

Votum et Ritus ad Voti Recipiendum

The Vow of the Little Man
[Votum]

May I be:
Light in the darkness
Life in the place of death
Hope to those who despair
Courage to the fearful
Freedom to the enslaved
Strength to the weak
Mutual affection to all sentient beings
Enduring compassion of the Tree

[Inspired by the Vow of Shantideva]

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Ad Voti Recipiendum
[Rite for Reception of the Vow]

May these words, which you have transformed into a sacred vow, be strength, light, hope, and an enduring promise of compassion for the entire Spiritual Family.

May you be the sacred tree that sanctifies the entire grove.

May you be the Wise Grovekeeper who follows not the ways of this world, for it is written: The wisdom of the world is folly.

May the many other trees that dwell in the grove, which is the Spiritual Family, hide and protect you from those who would lay low every tree of the sacred grove and slay every child of the One who brought into being this Family.

As once they bowed to the Little Man, the entire Family bows to you. By this sacred bow every son and daughter, every brother and sister of so great a Family is honored and remembered.

The suffering of those who gave their lives for the sake of this day was not in vain, for it is written: Behold, I saw a new heaven and a new Earth for the first heaven and the first Earth had passed away.

As a dog abandons not the one he loves, the Spiritual Family will never abandon you. Just as dog and master each regard the other as little less than a god, so the Spiritual Family honors the mystery of compassion made manifest in you.

As the silent tree possesses power to transform light into life, the Spiritual Family has given you life that you may transform the Universe.

-Let fear, doubt, and anxiety no longer dwell in your presence
~Just as night and darkness vanish at the rising of the Unconquered Sun

-As you have passed from darkness to light
~So may our Family pass from death to life

-Truly, we have been blessed
~We are blessed from the very beginning

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~BT Waldbillig
October 9, 2017

Nonsectarian Rituals for the Spiritual Family (Part 1)

N.B.: This represents an initial, unfinished attempt at the creation of a hypothetical ritual. It’s meant to be a model and not a finished product.

Ordo ad Benedictionem

Ritual of Blessing
[at the gathering of the Spiritual Family]

I. Hymnus

abbe gaud
albe gaud
nunce laud
vere char
pae don
benden harch

Rejoice, the Father comes
Rejoice, the dawn is here
Proclaim the praise
Truly, the favor
The Father, the Master
Blessed from of old

II. Commemoratio

With wine and oil
We celebrate this life
Even as we prepare for death

With honey and yoghurt
We honor the Spiritual Family
In youth and in old age

With lemons and oranges
The delight of the body
Tempers the bitterness of suffering

With lavendar and cinnamon
We call to mind the Father
Who is also Mother

With flowers and stalks of grain
We make a fragrant offering
On behalf of the living and the dead

III. Fractio Panis

As the Father is also Mother, may you be both father and mother to one another.

As the Son is also Brother, may you be sons and daughters, brothers and sisters in the one Family.

Know him when you drink this cup of peace.
Know him when you eat this bread of bliss.

IV. Missio

-As a mother loves her only child
~So may we love one another

-As a father protects his Family
~So may we keep watch over one another

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~BT Waldbillig
October 9, 2017