Monday, August 6, 2012

M&R: Psalm 23 and Core Values

From the brothers’ perspective it all started at a “Welcome Home Party” their mother Maeve and her best friend “Aunt” Roxanne planned for them at the end of boot camp.  American by birth and enlisted in the United States Army, home for the duo was a small village outside of Siena, Italy.  It was a hot day, hence everyone wore white.  The picnic tents and tables were erected on a sun-bleached sand bar alongside the River Merse. Through the low lying hills beyond the riparian sunbaked freshly harvested wheat field lent a golden glow to the landscape.  Lines of cypresses stood before homes with stucco walls and tile roofs. A searing azure sky covered all.  In small vales beyond their view the slightest, low-lying haze from distant forest-fires veiled the tranquil scene.  The brothers looked a little thinner and little more muscular.  Still they were their usual selves; beefy, hairy, robust young men; one brunet, the other blond. 

They’d always been polite and differential to strangers and their elders. Respect for their mother and adoration of their father also insured downcast respectful gazes and pleasant words in greeting.  But, of course being their father’s sons, such demure appearance always gave way to boisterous hugs.  Maybe they were a little bit more polite then before. Since the family spoke French at home, no one noticed a military accent already creeping into their English after just nine weeks. 

The change that Shep (Shepherd) and Nom (Gnome) Sienna noticed was in their “cousins” Glaucia, Callirhoe and Strymo Scamander; their Aunt Roxanne’s step-daughters.  The girls had always been older than them; an insurmountable age difference in their youth, which now struck the brothers as not so great.   In addition, the girls figures were still great!  To say that the women of the Scamander household were full-figured was an understatement.  They were all raved-haired like their father but with rosy complexions.  Raised since teenage years by their red-headed stepmother, they had all her feminine ways and friendly spirit.

The difference they saw in their Siena-born foster-brother was his new friend Todd.  They at first assumed the tall well-built…stranger was from Cousin Balder’s side of the family.  Their foster brother Diodatus had always been the shiest of the crowd of boys who called John Sienna; Daddy.  When Shep and Nom enlisted with Puck absence, their foster brother slipped back into his quiet shy self, but with his new buddy at his side he was back to being one of the boisterous John Sienna boys.  Their foster-brother also appeared to suddenly notice the Scamander girls were not so much older than they.

“What was the best part of boot camp?” one of the girls asked.

The answer was “Church; there was no one yelling at you there.”

“What was the worst part?”

“Leaving my Bible behind.”

One of the brothers admitted.  Of course, that’s because he took “The Iliad”.  The boys could only take one pocket-sized book each.  One took the Holy Bible, the other The Iliad and they shared.

“What did they teach you?” Callirhoe asked Shep.

He took her hand, called her name and whispered, “Bear true faith and allegiance. “

Nom took Strymo’s hand, called her name and whispered “Welfare of others before your own.”

“Oh, oh, I know this one from their letters!” Diodatus exclaimed comically. 

But it was his tall, dark and...well it was his tall and darkish friend who took Glaucia’s ruddy hand, called her dearie in imitation of her mother and said while gazing deep into her eyes; “Do what’s right!”

Someone suggested a stroll John’s sons offered their arms to Roxanne’s step-daughters.  The twosomes spent the rest of the party strolling along the dusty river bank sharing little secrets, sowing the seeds of love.  Shep and Nom’s courtship of the Scamander sisters continued during their deployment.  They’d been interpreters of course. The conflict had never turned violent.  But the Siennans returned more serious and more ready to start their lives than before. 

This time at the welcome home party they wore their dress uniforms.  The girls wore elegant white cotton dresses, a little long for a picnic.  When Nom suggested a stroll, it was only he and Shep with a damsel on their arm.  They’d spoken to Diodatus and Todd about this earlier.  They’d spoken to the two other men about many things including being a part of a new business venture with the Sienna family.  They’d also spoken to the girls’ father Stan Scamander.

At the end of their stroll, where the land petered about,  a wide wet green slough wandered off towards tomorrow and the open water.  Nom made some mysteries comment about how Heavenly the scene was.  Shep pointed out its endless perspective, and then he knelt on his left knee.  The girls giggled in preparation for some silliness from him.  But, instead of his toothy smile Callirhoe saw that he had only had eyes for her and his eyes he saw nothing but passion.  She barely noticed Nom kneeling before her sister Strymo.  He wore the sweetest smile about his dimpled chin.  And in his eyes Strymo saw joy.  She and grabbed her sibling’s hand.

Shepherd; “In you I’ve found a love beyond my want, beyond my fears, beyond my destiny. Will you be mine?”

Gnome;  “If you will wed me, there is nothing I shall want, I’ll rest in the meadows of faithfulness and love, I walk with you my beloved  by the quiet waters of peace. ” 

Strymo and Callirhoe screamed, “Yes!”

The double wedding ceremony and reception went off without a hitch.  For the scripture the pastor read from Psalm 23.  All in French, course.  It was a spectacular, traffic stopping event of international consequence that only the self-possessed Sienna family can put on.  Well, there was a moment at the dinner party when some hard-liner mistook Todd for their estranged cousin Balder.  With a sense of power that no one had seen in Stan Scamander’s daughters before Glaucia firmly took the old man’s hand and explained who Todd was and how important he was.  At the finale of the fete a flying horse drawing a porcelain coach landed on the pool at the Riviera resort.  Beneath thundering volleys of fireworks, the newlyweds ran to their chariot and rose into the sky.  The crane lifting the carousel horse and papier-mache carriage brought them to the roof where a waiting helicopter started them on their honeymoon alongside the white-sand beaches of Upolu Island.

As all the Siennans and their guest stood mouths open, hands over their ears, tear filled eys gazing into the sky, Todd took Glaucia gently by the hand and led her back inside the resort.  The scar on his cheek burned purplish with emotion.  A pulse showed itself beneath the tattoo on the opposite temple.  His plush dark lips parted in a whisper of, “ Gently you raise me and heal my weary soul. You have set me a banquet of love in the face of hatred, crowning me with love beyond my power to hold.”

Her guardian angel told Glaucia’s stepmother to look over her shoulder.  She turned, grasping her best friend’s hand in the process, in time for both women to see the muscular, dark-skinned man kneel and offer a ring.

Glaucia screamed, “Yes!”

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