08 October 2005

The Beckoning Hand


This year mark the 135th anniversary of General Lee’s death. Lee crossed the eternal river on the morning of October 12th, 1870. For several evenings prior to Lee’s death, the northern lights had lit up the night sky. As Douglas Southall Freeman would later write,
“. . . some saw in it a beckoning hand. One Lexington woman took down a copy of The Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers and pointed significantly to this quatrain:
‘All night long the northern streamers Shot across the trembling sky: Fearful lights, that never beckon Save when kings or heroes die.’”

Mrs. Lee would note that, “He had take leave of earth though perfectly conscious until the last 24 hours.” As Lee’s spirit departed its earthly habitat, Lee gave his parting command, “Strike the tent.” Even 135 years after his death, General Robert E. Lee continues to command us. He commands us, by his noble example and by his wise words,

To be gentlemen: “The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him.”

To be humble: “It is necessary we should be humble and taught to be less boastful, less selfish, and more devoted to right and justice to all the world.”

To be good examples: “One of the best ways I know to induce students to attend chapel is to be sure that we attend ourselves.”

To know what is truly important in life: “We must all try to be good Christians-that is the most important thing.”

To do our duty: “Let every man remember that all he holds dear depends on the faithful discharge of his duty.”

To appreciate Creation: “What a beautiful world God in His loving kindness to His creatures has given us! What a shame that men endowed with reason and knowledge of right should mar his gifts!”

To listen more than we speak: “I deem it wisest for me to remain silent.”

To love our neighbor: “Occupy yourself in aiding those more helpless than yourself.”

To trust God: “With calm satisfaction, trust in God and leave results to Him.”

By following Lee’s example of trusting in Christ, we, too, can be ready for the “beckoning hand” of God.