Archive for November 14th, 2011

I wrote this post, while sitting in my pj’s, drinking my coffee, watching Canada’s national Remembrance Day service in Ottawa, on the television. As we live on the west coast we are afforded the time to watch the nations memorial before attending out own local one.

As we lived in Ottawa for six years, it is like being there again when we watch it.

Every year, whether at a Remembrance Day memorial or watching it on television, I am intrigued by one person in particular (in Ottawa). It is not the leader of the country, or of the riding. It is not the clergy who speak and pray. It is not the player of the trumpet. It is not the Governor General. It is not even the members of the royal family that we have seen in Ottawa. It is the Silver Cross Mother.

The Silver Cross is given, by the nation, to one mother each year. according to Veterans Affairs Canada, this “Memorial Cross, the gift of Canada, was issued as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice on the part of widows and mothers of Canadian sailors and soldiers who died for their country during the war.” It is an award, a medal, a distinction, in which the winner has lost. To receive the silver cross, is to have lost a son, or daughter, in military service for Canada.

This year I watched Patricia Braun, whose son was killed by a suicide bomber, in Kandahar, in 2006 at the age of twenty-seven. She was escorted with her wreath, by Canada’s Governor General, David Johnston. She was the first to lay her wreath, for (in my opinion) she lost more than any other who would lay a wreath in remembrance. She walked with poise, she laid her wreath, and then, as any mother could relate to, she kissed her fingers and laid them on the wreath … and she, and any mother watching, nearly lost it, as the gravity of why she was there fell upon our hearts.

As mothers we all know that in having a child means that we will need to give them up at some time. Just as Mary, when she was told that she would bear the Son of God. But, like Mary, we mothers do not really think too deeply about that giving up when they are a tiny babe. When they are small enough to still be carried in our arms they are all ours, and their world (quite literally) revolves around us as mothers.

The Bible (Luke 2:19) says that “Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them.” This is just prior to having her little baby boy circumcised. This is just after a week of his arrival, and the visits of shepherds who had been sent by the heavenly host and the angel.

I always wonder, what was Mary pondering? What was she really aware of? Did she know the scriptures that foretold of the coming Messiah? Did she know the scriptures that referred to him as a “lamb before the slaughter” (Isaiah 53), and as one who would “bear our suffering” (Isaiah 53)?

If we, as mothers knew the suffering that life might offer our child, our tiny babe, would we (could we) give them up to the world when they are adults?

I do not know the mind of Patricia Braun. I am sure that when her twelve year old son (my son is twelve) decided to seek a future with the military, she did not foresee where his future was to go, but she may have pondered the foreshadowing his desire created in her mother heart. She said in response to receiving the medal, “It’s kind of bitter sweet. I’m very proud to wear the Silver Cross.” It would seem she saw the bigger picture of her son’s sacrifice, but that does not detract from her personal sorrow.

I do not know the mind of Mary, but I am sure she was aware of the gravity of her babe’s future when Simeon, in the temple said to she and Joseph, “and a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2). That said, she was also was blissfully unaware of his future when her twelve year old son (my son is twelve) had been missing while traveling. When he was found he replied to his parents “’didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he was saying to them” (Luke 2). She sacrificed, for the good of all humanity, but that does not detract from her personal sorrow.

As we enter the gift purchasing, and gift giving season may we not forget that there is no gift that can equal the gift of life for life. And that is what Jesus came for, to give his life for ours.

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