Guenevere, A Portrait
Carlos Mason Wehby
Posted on March 17th, 2014
Sheathe your tongues, gentlemen! You wrangle, you haggle over the law under the guise of righteousness. But a man with an angel’s face and a devil’s tongue is only mistaken for so long.
And a woman? A woman who knows her place perhaps does not speak amongst such noble gentlemen, amongst the chosen knights of the Table Round. Even a woman with a crown may keep her expressions to nods and glances, or as it suits her, a show of tears.
But what of a wife who does not protect the name of her husband when he has given her his name, and more than his name, his kingdom?
‘How dare I?’ I ask myself. I can only raise my voice amidst the din, against this rancor, out of love for my husband Arthur. Here you are, discussing my execution, my execution for treason, my execution as consequence and retribution for my betraying my husband. And I assert that I am one of the few here who loves him. And I am the only one who would hold my head still were he to swing the ax.
You discuss my execution, but not out of a love for the law and not out of a love for your king and my husband. You lust for control! Any sense of justice has fallen prey to your hedonistic sporting for advantage. Your whimsical play for power.
And I am the clown of your comedy. I am the fool. I am the joker now, fallen into your hand, and you mean to play me against my king.
I will not be possessed by you, gentlemen. I will not be shuffled and dealt. Though I have swallowed my tongue 1000 times, and though it may soon be cut out by your hands, I will not let the voices of impostors rise above my own.
I dare to speak out of love, however imperfect, for my king. It is only through his strength and his vision that any of us have a voice at this table. At this table, you may play at being king, but it is only because the true king has allowed it. King Arthur graced you with the opportunity to save yourselves from falling on your own swords, despite your steadfast determination. Through his leadership, we united and defeated countless invading forces. Through his wisdom, we turned our weapons and as much as we could of our hearts and minds to the Grail and its discovery.
There are empty seats at this table. Look about you. There are those who have died for our unity. There are those who have died on the sacred quest.
But there is one empty chair – I will make his report. I will make Lancelot’s report.
I will make Lancelot’s report to you, Arthur. I will make it to you and only you, though others may hear. I will make it to you, whom Lancelot and I love.
(Guenevere removes her crown and places it in the center of the table.)
I offer you Lancelot’s report humbly, as your wife and servant, if no longer your queen.
Let any of these men take my crown if they dare wear it. They will not take yours. Not these men, not these men who returned lost and defeated from the Quest. Not these men who could not find the road to the Castle of the Grail.
Lancelot returned while you were away, my king. But did he return defeated? His quest began without much hope. His powers were stripped. His armor was stolen. His sword broken.
He rediscovered prayer, my Lord. He rediscovered his service to you as a service to Christ. He rediscovered his service to Christ’s Cup as a service to you.
And there was his power – his strength, his armor and his sword.
There was his path! The road opened, my King. As you believed it would. And the road led to the door of a Church. And from the door of the Church, Lancelot saw the Grail itself.
My Arthur, this is the fruit of your Quest: The doors of the Church closed when Lancelot hesitated to pass through them.
Then he returned to us, my king. Not for your crown, but out of service. He returned to you and I with his story, with his questions and his doubt.
When Lancelot returned to Camelot, his home, he did not hesitate to enter. And he did not hesitate to find us, my Lord, though you were away. And he did not hesitate to enter my chamber, my king. He did not hesitate to discover what had come between him and God.
I received Lancelot and he told me of his Quest. And then we prayed. He had us pray, Arthur, with folded hands. And then our folded hands became our folded bodies. And we cried out of our longing for you, Arthur, and for peace.
This is my betrayal, Arthur, my husband and king. That out of service to your vision, I should find a road that leads me from your table to your dungeon and to my execution. And when the knights came to my chambers, to arrest us in your name, under your flag with their intentions – I did not flee because I knew my place as your wife. As a servant to your law.
Lancelot defeated all these belligerent knights and escaped. Each and every one. And these knights who crave his power and yours will put me to execution.
But you know, my King, as does Lancelot, and as I do now, delivering my message to the heart of your Table – we know that your power, and his, and mine are rooted in a power greater than our own. And out of service to this power, you offered the Quest for the Grail. Out of service to this power, Lancelot strove to fulfill it. Out of service to this power, and through its strength, I speak here that some meager voice of Truth may rise above the clamor of this hall and be heard.
These are not all bad men, my King. Those who are your servants. There are those who love you. Here again, I surrender myself to you and to them. To the table’s will.
I love you, my Arthur. May my last words as your wife be spoken here, here at your venerable table.
I believe in you, King Arthur. I believe your vision leads to greater peace.