Friday, July 15, 2016

Half Mast

Last night Miss Language and I were discussing the tragedy in Nice. I said. "I feel like a flag is at half mast in my heart" and she replied, "I feel like the whole world has just been stuck at half mast."


So this morning I was still thinking about evil and its pain and googled about how "half mast" came to be. It turns out, of course, that there are a number of theories about how it started, but the practice was apparently well-established by the early 1600s. A 1934 book puts forth this explanation: "The half-masting of colors is in reality a survival of the days when a slovenly appearance (untidy, careless) characterized mourning. Even in the British Merchant Service today there are recent cases of trailing rope ends, 'slacking off' of rigging, and scandalizing yards as a sign of mourning." This reminds me of the custom in some Biblical references of tearing clothes and rubbing on ashes to show mourning. The more popular theory is that sailors lowered the flat to "half mast" - not really half but just one flag's width - to allow room for an "invisible flag of death" to fly above it. I like this image partly because I love nautical things, but also because I am drawn to momento mori, reminders of death.

Even as believers, we DO sail under a "flag of death" until the day Christ makes all things new. However the heavens are far above that invisible flag and belong to the Victor. I want to live my life with eyes fixed on the King's banner, which is above all and shall never be lowered.

(Miss Language also continued to think and write about out brief chat.)