(C) Lynne Kirton
I attended a Remembrance Day service on Sunday.
As they read the name of fallen soldiers from the community, I was surprised and sad. There were so many names! It felt like the list would never end.
I kept thinking of those young soldiers. Did they know what they were getting themselves into? How brave they were! But also probably conflicted (from the movies I've seen it seems there was a conflict between going to war and preserving one's life - a natural human instinct). How hard it must have been for them to make the choice to serve.
What horrors they must have seen. I remembered scenes from shows like Downtown Abbey and Land Girls: bullets hissing, bombs exploding on the ground, dead bodies all around. How scary that must have been. I also wondered how they dealt with the conflict between defending your country and not taking someone else's life. I know that God forgave them, but how did they forgive themselves? It must be hard.
Then I thought of the mothers and wives. How powerless they must have felt. There was nothing they could do to save the lives of those men. I understood their urge to become nurses, work in bomb factories, and so on.
I felt their grief. The pain and the anger. The anger I've felt so many times when I lost someone close to me. The "why, God, why" feeling. I thought of my own life's purpose and what I've been focusing on in the last 2 years: spirituality, religion, helping churches so that they in turn can help people be happier. What's the point of all this? If in the end we couldn't save those poor men's lives?
I kept trying to think of a theological explanation for that. Why did those men die? Why didn't God save them? I know that "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." (Isaiah 26:3 KJV) I've been able to overcome a lot of problems in my life by searching for Inner Peace. I've been able to heal a lot of things in my own body by trusting in Him (more on that on another post). But it must be hard to stay focused on peace while you are trying to kill someone else, while bombs are exploding all around you, while dealing with all those conflicting feelings, while trying to forgive oneself. Is that why they died?
I know the devil led us to war (or in secular terms, fear and negativity led us to war). Did those men unknowingly attract the devil (or in new age terms, did they attract negative energy) which increased their chances of death by choosing to go to war?
My current mode of living is to avoid dwelling on negativity (or in Christian terms, avoid thinking about the devil) as much as possible. I imagined God whispering in those soldier's ears, to dock down as a bullet was about to hit them, to take a wider step as they were about to set foot on a mine. Or an even better thought: God was screaming at them, as loud as He could. Some could hear His voice (as an Intuition) and others couldn't. Is that why some of them died? That is the only theological explanation I can find that fits with my "God is 100% good" philosophy.
As I muddled through these feelings, of grief, fear, conflict, I thought of the comfort that focusing on God's love has given me throughout the past 2 years. I realised that I might not be sure as to why so many men died, but I do know that He was always there to comfort us. I imagined God comforting a soldier as he tried to forgive himself for killing another human being. I imagined God comforting a mother as she dealt with the loss of her son.
As we stood up and sang "O' Canada", I felt a strong sense of community and belonging. And then, the verse "we stand en garde for thee" finally came alive in me. Those soldiers stood en garde for Canada, for our Sovereign, for our freedoms. That verse is in the anthem because of them. From now on I will think of them when I sing it.
After the service, I had the pleasure of hearing the stories of Major Alan Haywood. I intentionally went up to him and asked him to share his stories with me. I'm a good listener and I love being there for people. So I thought that was the best way for me to honour a veteran and truly be a part of Remembrance Day. He made history come to life for me and I helped him keep the memory alive.