Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Before The Throne

In my historical-flavored pursuits, people sometimes ask if I'm in the SCA, the Society for Creative Anachronism. Many people get the flawed impression it's an extension of their local Renaissance Festival, but a more accurate description is an organization of people who love the dress, demeanor, arts and combat of the Middle Ages without the unpleasantries -- like the Plague.

I first heard about SCA in college, when somebody asked about "those Medieval guys" in Columbia, Missouri's Peace Park. "Some of those guys," he continued, "they're kinda fruity."

Many months ago, some friends of mine who play in a medieval musical troupe invited me to an SCA Arts & Sciences fair sponsored by the local "barony." I wander into a hotel near downtown Tucson teeming with lords and ladies.

They occupy much of the ground floor in their tunics, tights and gowns. In the lobby. In the bar. By the pool. In the courtyard. In the meeting rooms. On the balconies. At the front desk. Woe upon the uninitiated modern-day guest left to scratch his head and whisper: "I see dark-age people!"

Source: SCA
I come in my green Henderson kilt, red weskit and Jacobite bonnet. It's a few hundred years beyond the SCA timeline, but nobody minds.

“We use coolers for our beer,” one nobleman named Christobal tells me. “We don't want to go into the mountains for snow.” Nobody stitch-counts in the SCA because the rules of authenticity can be flexible according to circumstance.

Not five minutes after I enter the lobby looking for my friends does a person from a We Make History ball recognize me. She played the Cavaliers' Ball a few years back, and amazingly, she knows me even though I'm not wearing my Puritan attire.

“I didn't know you were in the SCA,” she smiles.

“I'm not,” I explained. “I'm a visitor.”

She explains some SCA nuances, such as “court” – a gathering of the royals and the princes – and her roles as assistant to royalty, making a lady-in-waiting comfortable and getting everything that she needs.

It's nice to be nobility. It's nice to be honored, too, before the nobility. And that's the draw of Court, where the SCA's most enthusiastic, industrious, and skilled participants are praised before the King and Queen, given beautiful certificates and cheered with shouts of “HUZZAH!” One court opens the festivities and another session closes it.

In that final ceremony, I see the king rise from his throne, explaining how he has the discretion and honor to confer a “laurel” upon those whom deems deserving of special accolades.

He walks about before he mentions the name of a lady, well-versed in years as she is in her artistic talents. She bursts into tears as the other stand and cheer and huzzah to her. She kneels before His Majesty and swears on a sword to uphold the honor and dignity of the rank. Afterwards, a line of people keep hugging her.

“I don't know what that was,” I tell the musical friend who invited me, “but it must have been huge.”

It was wonderful for her, and may GOD forgive me for being slightly jealous. Everybody should get to have an experience like that at least once in their lives, being told by somebody of rank how valuable they are, in public, before their friends, in a bright and colorful ceremony. It's like the Boy Scouts, but with a historic theme and certificates instead of merit badges.

We'll get our chance. One day, all of us will stand before the throne of OUR KING. I don't know what HE'll say to me. I know in CHRIST I'm saved, but there's always the uncertainty, the worry. For now though, I wonder about the others here on Earth, and what we're doing to tell them how valuable they are. What laurels are we giving them, while we're living?

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