The Gargoyles of Life
by Mary Tatem
We parked in a mall parking garage that overlooked a cathedral. From this viewpoint we could see that the decorative curlicues on the tall towers were not shaped like the gargoyles of European Cathedrals. Gargoyles are an architectural term for decorations of long-necked animal heads or ugly human ones built into a structure to ward off evil spirits or, more practically, drain the water running off the roof away from the mortar of the building to ward off deterioration. The name sounds as strange as these appendages to the churches look. The concrete decorations we viewed from our parking place curved upward reminding us of an ancient belief that evil spirits would slide down the roof, encounter the curve, and fly away from the structure instead of entering it.
We don’t think much about the superstitions of gargoyles in our day. Yet, what kind of gargoyles do we unconsciously build into our thinking to ward off the evils of our world, whether physical or spiritual. As kids, we joked that to step on a crack was to break our mother’s back. We laughingly said breaking a mirror brought bad luck. We entered buildings that skipped a thirteenth floor. Human nature tends to hope that outward actions will provide protection and win favor. If we pray enough, read the Bible enough, go to church without fail, we might be okay. But who decides what is enough? Prayer, Bible reading and church attendance are all beneficial, but we don’t earn God’s protection. Instead, we cherish our inward relationship with God. We don’t earn His favor. God gives it. Our protection from the evils of the seen and unseen world doesn’t lie in outward rituals we perform or objects we construct around us. It is in building our lives and our thinking processes around Jesus, and acknowledging the authority of Jesus and the love of God that bring us peace. In a dangerous world, we grow in putting our trust in His goodness and grace as we bask in the love of God. Take courage. God is a superb protector. He delights to surrounds writers, editors, publishers with his protection. Thank you God for blowing your breathe on the publishing business.