With Grateful Thanks
It’s Remembrance Day tomorrow. A time when we join together as a community to honour the sacrifices of those who gave their lives, their wholeness and their mental peace to give us the freedom we enjoy today. I know many of us will be at Memorial Park participating in the solemnity of the day and yet … something is missing. Perhaps it is because so most of us, though we wear the poppy and sing the anthem and say the prayers, we don’t remember. We can’t remember the horror and the sadness and the unrelenting grief and fear of those times. We, as a community, are relatively untouched by the more recent conflicts and anyone of my generation or younger is unable to conceive the annihilation that occurs during these events.
I was very young when my father died, but at 12 I was not too young to feel the weight of the cold damp shroud of grief which settled so heavily over my family. It seemed as though we moved through a thick fog, every tiny action requiring immense effort. Like a deep bottomless shadow loomed closely behind us as we went about our business, breathing icy air over our necks and occasionally wrapping it’s glacial arms around us, squeezing the breath from us when there were no tears left and leaving us frozen and ready to shatter at the slightest provocation. Although it’s been over 30 years since he died, and each year has covered that desolation with a thin layer of scar tissue, it’s all still sitting right there and occasionally those layers get torn away and the anguish is right there, untouched, like a house abandoned in a hurry, or Miss Havisham, moldering, forever stuck in situ. There is no recovery from such an experience, merely a carrying on of existence but the broken pieces of psyche never quite return to their former position.
Yes, I know that was depressing, and that’s not what you come here for, but this clown can’t seem to dredge up a laugh today.
These are the experiences that drive us to search for God’s face. There is certainly nothing on earth that can heal you or carry you through such times. It’s in our most fragile state that God feels closest, when the sheep are lost that the Shepherd seeks them out and makes his presence felt most keenly. And yet – it’s so easy to start to forget our dependence on Him. That’s what Remembrance Day is for me – a day to dwell on the enormity of lives sacrificed to give us freedom and the life given to bring us into grace.