2009/05/23

On this Memorial Day: For him, for them, for her - O hear us when we cry to Thee, for those in peril

I don't know what to do about war - neither do you - neither does anyone. It has always torn apart our planet, and maybe it always will. There are those who say that it would all calm down if all would lay down their swords and guns - but that only works where there are no aggressors to breach the deal and kill others in their sleep.

A great and jagged fissure opens in my chest when I think of it. My father-in-law survived WWII, most of it in the belly of what would have been an incinerating coffin if his ship had been hit. His father before him, too. And his father. This is the stuff of family legend, and we have the photos of roads in Europe being built by WWI forces - none of the men are named. Great grandpa took pictures - he didn't introduce himself.

And Bill. One of the most gentle and brave souls God ever made - who saw his first day of action on the blood-drenched beaches of Normandy and came home to his war bride and his career as a high school music teacher. This too is the stuff of legend.

But...

see ...

my daughter is a soldier now. My niece is a sailor. Their husbands wear military uniforms too, and this is not yet the stuff of legend. These are their lives, and this is my motherhood. My body feels cracked open - a deep rock crevasse, hotter near the center of my earth, has split me in two with the power of an earthquake. I admire them. I am afraid. I honor them. I weep and pray. They signed up as volunteers. I did not. They work. My core is exposed.

One thing I know. The noble work they do is not sullied by sometimes ignoble causes - or by misguided leaders. Our kids are willing to look at things you and I would rather not see, and then come home and keep to themselves what you and I would rather not hear. They do this in service of their country, and we - you and I - are part of the country they serve. How is it possible that I can be so proud of them and wish so much that they were not made of such stuff as this? (I think it is possible the same way a rock can split in two, the bottom of the fissure be too deep to fathom and the top be a place where wildflowers smile at the sun all day.)

I pray God I will not be putting flowers on their graves at any Memorial Day in my lifetime. And I offer my prayers for them and I honor their service.

1 comment:

Mossback Meadow said...

Oh, the emotion that must have gone into creating that stained glass art..

Having not grown up near water, being at peril on a rough, dark and deep sea is terribly frightening.