Originally scheduled for July 29
One of the more stunning desert landscapes in
America lies along the border of Arizona and Utah. It is Monument
Valley, home to some magnificent red sandstone buttes. Movie
directors, especially John Ford, have been drawn to the location
because of its masculine character. One of his movies was the
classic John Wayne western,
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. Considered by many to be John Wayne’s
best movie, it features a sequence in which the cavalry troop plods
through a rainstorm.
The contrast is striking. Amidst a scene of
lightning and rain which whispers of the power of God, the cavalry
troop plods onward, dealing with the trivia that soldiers always
have. Interestingly, the cinematographer who photographed the scene
told John Ford that he was not at all certain he could get any
pictures which would be any good. He felt that the storm made the
lighting too dark. The cinematographer, one Winton Hoch, told Ford
that he would do what he could with the camera but promised no
results at all. The scene went through the rainstorm, and Winton
Hoch won an Academy award for cinematography that year, largely on
the strength of that one scene.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know the power
that that scene has. It resonates even more deeply with those who
have been soldiers. It’s almost a picture-perfect portrayal of
military life. Here’s why that scene is so powerful:
Suffering. The soldiers have to get
off their horses and lead them through the rainstorm. What’s the
sense of being in the cavalry if you have to walk in front of the
horse? It is the kind of petty suffering that soldiers become
Perseverance. You can see in their
eyes and in their smiles the grim sense of perseverance — it’s
inevitable were going to walk through this rainstorm so we might as
well start walking.
Finality. There is no sense walking
halfway through the rainstorm. The key to success is in completing
the mission. And that is what they do.
Soldiers know that the right road always leads
Communion, in a sense, is a picture that is
very similar to this scene. We see in communion the suffering of
Christ represented in the cup and the bread. It is a horrible form
of torture leading to death, but Christ evidently made no complaint.
The suffering was required, and suffer He did. The perseverance that
he exhibited is characterized by one statement: “not my will, but
your will be done.” That determination to carry it all the way
through led to the utter finality of the crucifixion: “it is
It is a simple depiction. If you will, Christ
is at the head of the column — but we are soldiers marching behind.
Every time we take communion we portray his death to the world,
until he returns. May this symbolic meal strengthen you to face the
march ahead. Examine yourself; take and eat. Then march on; your
Lord leads the way.