Go with me here: Imagine for a moment that Indiana Jones did NOT rescue the Ark of the Covenant from the Nazis, and that it is NOT hidden away in a vast government warehouse. If that’s not true, then what became of the actual Ark of the Covenant, the ancient sacred chest that carried the stone tablets upon which Jehovah wrote the 10 Commandments?
One of the theories that I find most interesting, and unproven, is that it has been hidden away in a city in Ethiopia for thousands of years:
“Through the centuries, Ethiopian Christians have claimed that the ark rests in a chapel in the small town of Aksum, in their country’s northern highlands. It arrived nearly 3,000 years ago, they say, and has been guarded by a succession of virgin monks who, once anointed, are forbidden to set foot outside the chapel grounds until they die.” (link)
Okay, that’s kinda weird, but how did the Ark even get to Ethiopia? “According to the Kebra Nagast, a great Ethiopian text dating back many centuries, the fate of the Ark was tied up with King Solomon’s love life. The wise monarch had a romantic dalliance with the Queen of Sheba, who bore him a child: Menelik I, emperor of Ethiopia.
On reaching adulthood, Menelik decided to visit his father in Jerusalem, and ended up bringing the Ark back with him to Africa. After being kept for several hundred years on the island of Tana Qirqos in Ethiopia, the Ark was eventually brought to the town of Axum, where it has remained to this day, shielded from the eyes of everybody except an appointed “guardian”.” (link)
I have always found this legend to be curious, and have watched several documentaries on the whereabouts of the sacred Ark. Why am I bringing it up now? Because yesterday I read an article about some atrocities involving the town of Axum, and the chapel that supposedly houses the Ark.
Ethiopia is a mess, warlords and rebels are constantly at war with the government there, and the citizenry takes the brunt of it. It has been that way for a long time. Word of what is going on there can leak out very slowly, as technology and telephone lines are routinely cut in the conflict.
Apparently, last November, militias attacked the town of Axum. When the battle began, many of the people in town picked up whatever they could, sticks, knives, stones, and ran to the Church of St Mary of Zion, fearing that the militia would sack the church and take the Ark of the Covenant.
800 people? Witnesses say, “bodies with gunshot wounds lay in the streets for days in Ethiopia’s holiest city. At night, residents listened in horror as hyenas fed on the corpses of people they knew. But they were forbidden from burying their dead by the invading Eritrean soldiers.” (link)
Eventually they were able to bury the victims in mass graves.
Such barbarity. Such bravery. It is impossible to ignore the courage of dedication of those who rushed into the fray to save what they believed to be sacred. Their willingness to sacrifice themselves is heartbreaking and inspiring.
I read things like this and remind myself that it is a big world, and evil is ever-expanding. I can’t help but ask, “What sacrifices have I had to make lately to fight against evil?”
I believe what the prophet David O McKay said, “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul.” I do, however, wonder that we might focus so much on these personal battles that we turn a blind eye to the battles waging throughout the world, you know, the “love thy neighbor” part.
One example, just last month, the new administration reversed the Mexico City Policy which now allows US funding to organizations to encourage and facilitate abortions around the world. (Elections have consequences, #thanksdanbarker)
I have friends who fight moral battles – not just in their own souls, but for the greater good of mankind. Some feel like they are tilting at windmills as the forces of evil continue to redefine and diminish the importance of God and family in society, but tilt they do. It is admirable. (Yes, I’m talking about you, Angela)
It is easy to live in my bubble, and tell myself that I am willing and able to stand up and fight if the time came, but my actions say otherwise. Those battles are raging all around us, and all across the globe. Right now.
As you know, I am plenty outspoken, and I’ll usually say what I believe needs to be said, and defend what I believe deserves defending. But, I will admit that I have often found myself cowed into silence out of fear of raising a ruckus that results in retribution against me. (Yes, it is real, I have been blocked by Facebook before, as have many others I know.)
What a remarkably effective tool of the adversary: Simply to shut up those who oppose him.
I have a gnawing feeling that tells me that it is not enough to focus on that which resides in my personal bubble, and that which impacts me personally. There is so much more.
Honestly, I don’t really know what that means, or what will become of those feelings, but when I read of people like the Ethiopians who were willing to sacrifice their lives, for what they considered sacred, I think back to my ancestors who did the same.
So little is asked of me, but I have been given so much. I am acutely aware of the scripture, “For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.” (D&C 82:3)
There is a battle waging outside my door – whether I acknowledge it or not. I believe I will be held accountable for what I choose to do about it.