Sunday, May 01, 2005

Dependable Women

I just finished reading Gates Of Fire by Steven Pressfield. (A short description of the book is in my previous blog.) Now that I’m finished it one of the things that really stands out to me is how important the women were to the people of Sparta. They weren’t equals by any means but seem to have more importance than I would have thought for that time in history.

At one point in the book the women are depended on for the future of Greece! Of course it is not the women out on the battlefield fighting but it is their character and support that the King counts on to carry the people of Greece through the aftermath of this battle at Thermopylae.

The King had chosen 300 Spartan men to basically go on a suicide mission to defend the “Hot Gates” at Thermopylae, a narrow point where the Persian enemy had to pass in order to defeat Greece. The men chosen seemed rather random. There were Spartans who would be considered too old, others too inexperienced, and still others that were the cream of the crop. We find out later in the book that these men were chosen because of who their wives and mothers were. They were the strong women of the city. I’m guessing they were leaders among the women too. The King knew that this was basically a suicide mission and that it would be hardest on the women of the men who were going. He believed that if his people saw courage and strength in these women they would not lose hope in their country.

This King, who was part of this suicide mission, and his wife, met with one of the Spartan's wives. This woman in particular was going to be losing her husband and her son. To this woman the Queen explained her role as Queen.

“Women envy my station but few grasp its stern obligations. A Queen may not be a woman as others. She may not posses her husband and children as other wives and mothers, but may hold them only in stewardship to her nation. She serves them, the hearts of her countrymen, not her own or her family’s.”

I found this quote really interesting since I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I think the spirit of what this Queen said can be applied to the Christian life for men as well as women. Since my son was born I’ve been trying not to think of him as someone I posses but more of someone who belongs to God and whom God has placed in my care. I can hold him as my own as long as I am ready at any time to release him into whatever God has planned for him. Whether that be going off to college, getting married, moving to another city, country or even continent. I know that this is easy to write now while he is only 11 months old but hopefully if I get my mind set in this place now it won’t be quite as shocking when it actually happens.

Let me try to rewrite that quote so it fits better for followers of Jesus. (I know I could say Christians here but that term has been ruined for too many people which is a topic for another blog.)

“A person who follows the teachings of Jesus may not be like most people. They may not posses their spouses and children, or homes and belongings like others, but must hold them with an open hand always ready and willing to release them into the service of Jesus. They live a life of service to all, serving Jesus first and themselves last.”

I think that is what I really took away from what the Queen said.

The Greeks held off the Persians long enough and eventually defeated them. The pride this produced in the people of Greece only ignited the spark of democracy that had already been started. Each individual had a new found belief in themselves and their country. This created optimism and enterprise that turned democracy into the blazing fire it is today.

All in all a great battle book that gives us a glimpse into a past that has shaped how we live today.




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