Camelot Didn't Just Fall...

graveyardDon't let it be forgot that once there was a spot
For one brief, shining moment
That was known as 'Camelot'."

Camelot - 1960

King Arthur and his faithful horse "Patsy" clop-clop by...
Customer dropping off his plague dead: "Who was that then?"
Cart Master collecting the newly dead: (puzzled) "Dunno. Must be a king."
Customer: "Why?"
Cart Master: "He hasn't got shit all over 'im..."

Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975

Camelot Didn't Fall, It Plummeted

OK, that's about when the screaming started in earnest: children screaming for their lives. Not Halloween running from house to house trick-or-treating with friends screaming, not roller-coaster oh-no-here-it-comes-again screaming, not Christmas day Santa-left-me-what-I-wanted-under- the-tree screaming, not give-me-what-I-want-or-else-I'll-scream screaming.

This was children whose trusty but worn out old school bus was going to crash by breaking through the safety rail and drop to the ground far below and our parents won't be there to help us and make it all better when it's over screaming.

We found ourselves over-committed into the first bend of the offramp and the screaming was anxious, full of trepidation and disbelief. We went up against the guardrail and broke through and the screaming was full of blatant terror and denial. The bus with us inside left the roadway and launched out into space and the screaming went beyond retrieval or reversal, full of forlorn pleading. For there are some things that humans should not see or hear but we did, we did.

The bus rolled upside down in midair and we children started tumbling towards the roof and our screaming filled every void... and then got crushed along with us. 

All the way through the crash, a nightmare unfolded with relentless blossoming distress. All the way though the crash, the screaming did not stop until the bus skid to its ultimate stop. The nightmare, though, did not stop. While all along, the praying persisted even longer.

We were breaking through the guardrail and I knew there was no way we were going to make it. I could see the ground far below waiting for us. I thought about whether I wanted to live or die: and I wanted to live, I felt there was still so much I wanted to do. But then, I thought that if I die, I'll get to be in Heaven with Jesus.

I was considering that, when the memory from my adolescent days reappeared in my consciousness I had occasionally had, while driving with my family in our station wagon on long trips in the car, a daydream where we chanced upon a school bus that had gone off the road and was laying on its side in those dreams, I had climbed on top of the side of the bus and helped people out through open windows.

It was when our bus started to roll upside down in the air that I realized this was not going to be like my dream at all. Just as we swung up against the guardrail and I could hear everyone around me screaming, shouting and yelling in fear and protest, I put my left arm out straight in front of me to keep me in my seat and I stretched my right arm in front of Chris to keep her in her seat, too. It was when the bus was rolling upside down that I realized that there was nothing that was going to keep us in our seats; I watched with compassion and tender pity as my friends in front of me began to fall towards the roof. That was enough for me, I didn’t want to see or hear any more.

When I was eight or nine, I had fallen from a rope swing at a cousin's house. A large tree at the top of a steep hill had a long rope with a big knot on the end. You stood by the tree, grabbed the rope and held on for all you were worth and swung out in a wide returning arc – it was death-defying & exhilarating! It was Robert's turn but he wanted to tie his shoe so he handed me the rope to hold for him. Foolish shoelace-boy! I grabbed the knot and swung out for an illicit extra turn when I felt my hands starting to slip. I was right out in the middle of the swing: I gazed with horror at my hands as I watched the knot slip away…and my vision went black. They told me later that I fell like Spiderman in the old t.v. cartoons: back down and arms & legs flailing helplessly. I landed some 20 feet below in bushes buried deep in old leaves – a natural mattress that cushioned my fall. I don’t remember anything until I came to my senses an hour later (apparently I was awake & crying; every couple of minutes or so, I would ask what time it was) with some scratches burning my face and no memory of the fall or my painful landing.

It was when I was watching my friends falling that I knew if I closed my eyes it would be just like that time I fell off the rope swing – that all would go black. I didn’t want to feel the pain of a horrible crushing death – I don’t know if that’s cowardly or not…I hoped it wasn’t…I still worry about it some…maybe I was making the wrong choice.

I had lost my bracing hold on Chris and on the seat back frame in front of me and a large shadow was rapidly spiraling down the inside of the bus. I wanted to live, but I was looking forward to waking up with Jesus. So I closed my eyes.

I was right: I did black out…but that’s not an end of feeling.

I was right: I did wake up with Jesus…just not in Heaven like I thought.

I was right: we did all die…it’s just that some of us didn’t end up getting killed.

Then the Holy Spirit came and sang to us in the wreckage, sang to the living a lyric lullaby to start our dulcet healing, sang the dead and dying into a deep sleep to propel their renewal. For we were children, we were a choir and we had sung the Lord’s praises with sincere & genuine faith. God is great: His love endures forever and He abides with us in our feelings.

There are times and places where something so tragic happens that Heaven itself kneels down and touches the earth. This does not take the nightmare away – that would reduce reality and its abundance, instead it blesses both so that, no matter what, God’s love is always at hand for us. The only thing the Lamb of God has ever taken away from us is our sins...for that was His will.

- Tom Randolph

long stairs"The living dead in many shapes and forms, To see the closing of this early grave.
What was the death it would shut in, To that which still could crawl and keep above it."

- Charles Dickens
Little Nell's Funeral, 1841

light thru treesIn the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning. Through Him, all things were made, without Him, nothing was made that has been made.
In Him was Life, and that Life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

- New Testament Gospel of St. John the Apostle
Chapter1, verses 1 - 5


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