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Archive for November 11th, 2021

Silence …

That is the most powerful part of a Remembrance Day service, for me. When I and those around me submit collectively to our thoughts about this day, it’s significance, those souls for whom the day honors.

In my thoughts, I will drift to my own children, thankful they have not been forced to decide upon such a high risk commitment. I will drift to those in ages past, within my family, who answered such a call … and the price that generations since have paid, for traumas unattended. Then, as if something visceral leads my eyes, I look around the cenotaph for those who have served … often frail, wrinkled … those standing often utilizing every bit of energy left within them … as if standing, not for their own memories, not for their own honor, but for those whose lives were snuffed out … in front of them.

There is a song I hear, often in our home. A song of commitment to one’s country. A song of honor to those who have gone before, who sacrificed their best, their own breath, for country. Not the place, for that is just sod and biology, but for the souls who make a country living, whole.

They did not die without reason. Nor did they die for a nation who imperfectly, embarrassingly has been corrupt in it’s treatment of others (Aboriginal, women, disabled, ‘different that us’).

They died for what we as a nation can be!
They died for the possibilities.
They died in an act of love.

For love is not about the one being loved, but the commitment of the lover to love without limit.

The beautiful, haunting hymn, A Vow to Thee My Country, was originally called, Urbs Dei (“The City of God”). It is a love song of allegiance to Two Fatherlands (another title for the original poem).

The first stanza focusing on a very Remembrance Day theme of loyalty to one’s earthly home (country).

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

The second stanza, focusing on the source of such national love, that City of God. This stanza is the glue that keeps all expressions and commitments to love in focus. It speaks of the perfect peace found within her fortress walls, with the very King of this city. It is a place … but, not just a location, for it is a place one can be while on the battlefields … of war, of life. For the City of God can be with us, if we vow to her King.

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

And, in true Gustav Holst form, his composition (from his piece called Jupiter) provides measured moments of near silence for the depth of the words to be digested into your soul.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

Hebrews 11:16

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