Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A few thoughts...Memorial Day

The pastor of my mother's church called on Thursday and asked if he had my permission to read a portion of a letter that I had written him, he wanted to use it during his sermon on Sunday. Of course I had to run through a quick recall of what I had said in the letter but I quickly said, “you most certainly may.” The letter was a letter of thanks that I sent him on the first anniversary of my father's passing. Pastor Steve had been very attentive to my father while he was in the hospital and he was equally attentive to my mother and all of us kids, (my three sisters and I.) When my father passed away at Methodist Hospital at nearly one in the morning he arrived before two of my sisters who were just a little further away. The letter was not just a thank you note, but a look at what life means to me, or maybe that statement isn't exactly right. I suppose a better term is how I see life happening, from there it leads me to the thoughts on what life means to me, though those excerpts are not recorded here. I thought that maybe it would be a line or two that he would use in his sermon, but instead it was a preamble of sorts on what the circle of life is, it was actually the beginning of a memorial service and dedication of memorial gifts that had been given to the church in the last year. Here is a portion of the letter that he received, the part that he shared.

Dear Pastor Steve,

Leaves have turned green, flowers bloomed, flowers faded, leaves changed to the colors of autumn and fallen, snow has blown across the fields; now we see the process end to end. The entire circle starts again, the cycle of life runs its paces. All of these things happen because God, our creator has ordered it so.

Tonight I sat on my mother's front porch. The very place where I have seen these very scenes unfold and play out over and again. The Box Elder tree that my father was going to cut down every year for 34 or so years still stands. When he would mention cutting it down I would simply say, “you don't want to do that.” Then he would move on to his next project, like cutting the tree, many of the projects were never started. Seeing the tree in the yard reminds me that God has made for us seasons. I'm reminded too that we are here on earth for only a season. In so many ways it seems that some seasons are long and seemingly never ending while others feel as though they pass before our eyes quickly, at the same speed of the hummingbirds that come to the front porch here for a quick nip.

The letter continues in such a way that Pastor Steve might not want you to know. He shared with me privately that what he did/ does, “is simply my job.” Nice of him to say so, it appears to be, it's what he is comfortable with.

We are a part of a cycle, we are part of a season that can be like a vapor quickly gone. I thought on that on Memorial Day. Many who served our country did so in such a way that they were but a vapor before their life was ended and many returned to their families, many grateful that they were whole, some feeling the ravages of war in their hearts, something that they could never speak of. Some came home with the visible signs that they had fought, gave limb or organ in order to make us free.

Many post bumper stickers that read, “War is not the answer.” I don't disagree, it isn't the answer, but all too often regular people, like you and I who agree that war isn't the answer are never invited to the table to strike the peace accord. We aren't in a position to share with one another just how hard it is to watch our families and friends give up their lives when peace may not really be so far away. Would we agree at that table that politics doesn't have to be so complicated?

The others who are giving up their lives, mostly unwillingly are seeing the cycle of life just like those who lie in hospitals fighting infections, disease, and every other foe that wages war in the body. We would see together that war is an infection, a disease and we should want to work together to find cures, not add to the illness.

Will I know peace in my life time? Will you? Most likely not, for two reasons, the Bible reminds us that, “there will be wars and rumors of wars.” And, secondly and regrettably it is a part of that cycle, the circle of life and it reminds us that it can so often last like the hummingbird's dinner.


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