A Fable about a Fable
“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the kings men
couldn't put Humpty together again.”
In the late 1700s, this little ditty began as an English nursery rhyme about an anthropomorphic egg. It seems that Humpty had a mishap. What was he doing on the wall in the first place? Whose wall was it? Was Humpty perchance disobeying someone's rules about wall climbing? Was this wall around a garden that he wanted to peep into but lost his balance? Did someone push him off? Did he jump? The rhyme doesn't tell us. And kids don't ask such questions anyway.
Too bad he was such a softy. It would have gone better for him had he been hard boiled. Some say the rhyme had political overtones, that perhaps it was about King Richard III who was defeated in battle. Such a pity that his entire army couldn't help him. The analogy has been exploited in political cartoons around the world. Ole H.D. has even been used to demonstrate the Second Law of thermodynamics describing a process known as entropy—about the order and disorder of properties.
But the point of this is to explore the matter of order and disorder in our Christian lives using a personified Humpty Dumpty and his newsworthy event as a launching pad. What does it say about our human condition?
"Order" has many definitions. It is an authoritative communication or command, as in giving an order. It also describes something that is working well, as in good order. Or an orderly system of arrangements in a sequence, as in lining up in order or according to priorities. Order can mean a state of neatness or efficiency, as in putting one's affairs in order. Or denoting inner orderliness and peace, a sense of spiritual harmony.
Humpty must have experienced most of those definitions in his own eggish way by his catastrophic tumble. It certainly rearranged and disordered his properties—there was the CaCO3 shattered shell, the vitelline membrane, germinal disc yolk and chalazae spattered all over the place. It wasn't very pretty! Actually a mop was needed, not a military attempt for damage control. After such total egg disorder and disharmony, it figures that no one could help him reconstruct his former standing—or sitting, in his case. It permanently changed Humpty Dumpty's integrity.
Thank God that in salvation history the "great fall" of our first parents didn't permanently change our integrity! God created man in perfection and destined us to live with Him for eternity. Although long-term disorder did set in, God, in His infinite love and mercy, didn't leave us without hope. He is in the business of spiritual reconstruction and into the miracle of unscrambling eggs.
Through His plan from before the foundation of the world, reconciliation with God was offered to us through the redemptive sacrifice of Christ on the cross. We could become new creations in Christ and experience His Holy Spirit's indwelling. Our disorder, our need to be put together again, could be remedied through our repentance. Forgiveness of our sins, peace, harmony, and order could be restored.
King David described this marvelous spiritual restoration in the Psalm-songs as being redeemed from the miry pit and set up on a rock. Our "Rock" isn't the material wall of the Humpty Dumpty rhyme, but the solid Faith Foundation of Jesus Christ as our Rock. God intends for us to keep abiding safely on that Rock-wall in close communion with Him.
No analogy is perfect, of course. The compounding problem is our generous gift from God of our free will. Moreover, we have to keep living in a fallen world. Even as new, restored creations we have the freedom to jump off of our Rock-wall. Or we might inadvertently slip off of it. When we do, we become uncomfortable and feel out-of-order. That is as it should be. It can happen to us even during the course of a day when the stresses, responsibilities, the unexpecteds, and interruptions threaten to overwhelm us and throw us off kilter. Our peace flies away if we give in to anxiety. If our priorities get skewed, pressures of life can push us off the solid foundation wall of trusting and abiding in God. We can lose our balance by not keeping our eyes focused on the orders for the day that God has given us.
Humpty's summons of all the material and military resources of his human (or barnyard) kingdom didn't do him any good. Unscrambling scrambled eggs was above their pay grade. Vain is the help of man or of poultry. But our situation is never hopeless in Christ if we find ourselves temporarily out-of-order. Our King of kings wants to draw us back to Himself, and He has provided a way out of our discombobulation and disarray.
He wants to keep us lovingly close and abiding in Him on His wall. If perchance we wander from the paths of righteousness or deliberately take detours from what we know to be His will, we are not irretrievably scrambled again. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The Lord draws us gently back to Himself.
It is easier if we keep short accounts with God. Throughout the day we can carve out slices of quiescent stillness to simply sit in God's presence and let Him listen to our hearts while we listen to His. We need to remind ourselves to “be still and know that He is God” and we are not. We must hush our hearts so that He can examine them and we can hear His whisper as He restores us to His good order again.
In the secret garden of His presence we can recollect ourselves and gather our scattered thoughts and activities to integrate and unite our spirits again with His and restore peace and order in our private worlds.
ORDER MY PRIVATE WORLD
Propelled by the winds of my times
my inner world whirls with unrest.
I’m driven by impulse and pressed
by the tangible, the visible,
the temporal commitments
and duties that pull at my spirit.
Responsibilities wrestle me to the mat
disintegrating my spiritual discernment
clouding my perception of God’s will.
Lord! I can’t hear You
if my outward world shouts so loudly
that my inner, private world is askew
without order and balance!
Not in the whirlwind of my life,
not in the earthquake of circumstances,
nor in the thunder of my activities,
not in the lightning of my urgencies,
nor in the fire of my passions
for accomplishment and success,
can I sense God’s peace and direction.
Only when I withdraw
to my secret garden
within the hidden chamber of my heart,
my innermost place of rest
where Christ abides
and graciously beckons me,
can I settle down attentively
with a hushed heart
to listen to His still, small voice
without the maelstrom of stress
and tension of my outward burdens.
When I sup with Him
and in communion with His Family
as He breaks the Eucharistic Bread,
His Body given for me,
He nourishes me so tenderly,
helps me sort out the disorder of my life,
and blesses me with peace and focus.
Only then can I go forth
and * “let my ordered life confess
the beauty of Thy peace,”
and I can confidently face
the public day ahead,
or the year ahead, or my next step
as God opens it before me.
*From the Hymn: “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind”
Text: John G. Whittier
From the RESOURCE BOOK
1 John 1:9; Romans 8:1, 11, 35; Romans 14:19; Psalm 27:5; 62:7; 46:10; 2 Samuel 22:3, 47; 1 Corinthians 15:22