Friday, November 18, 2011

Sanctity of Life/Mann

I stood among the people at our village Remembrance Day Service: all ages, shoulder to shoulder, bowed heads in prayer and lifted voices in song. As the names were read out and the wreaths were laid, faces passed through my memory like pages in a photograph album: uncles, neighbours, cousins. Although neither of my parents saw overseas duty, my father trained with the 11th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery (Guelph) and my mother worked delinquently with other women who served in The Red Cross Home Groups. As a farmer, dad may have been the last group to get the ‘letter’ which my sister said was an invitation. She also said, “Dad was ready to go.” And I know Mom would have parented us in the same ways that other mothers did when their man answered the call to duty.

As a child I was very much aware of war, low flying planes caused me to run to a ditch or into the safety of a building, my father’s voice singing ‘The Letter Edged in Black’ reminded me that even the mail carried fear and pain. My city cousins used to talk about having to lower black blinds during air raids and pull black curtains over the windows. Even on the farm, with plenty of milk, eggs and garden produce, I remember the dish of butter with the five squares, and the ration coupons for shopping.

Walking home from the cenotaph last week, I began to think about the sanctity of life. In one congregation in which I served, we had twin brothers who had served in France. I asked them during an open conversation in worship, where they got their courage. One of them said, “Faith” and the other said, “I used to sing the hymns I learned in Sunday school.” Sanctity of life, faith and God’s presence in the moment and in our memories are the focus for courage.

Several days later following Remembrance Day, the coordinator in a small group I attend, asked us to think about similar thoughts. Stories of birth and rebirth, loss and discovery, sorrow and happiness seemed to weave the thread of life through the experiences.

I shared a story about my birth during a January storm and how my father traveled to the highway with the horse and cutter to get the doctor. Then, in the middle of another January snow storm thirty years later, that same doctor attended me in the local hospital, to herald in the birth of our third son.

Interesting how life and death repeat themselves through the generations. We stand and watch, we feel joy and pain, we look to one another for support and encouragement and when we stumble, someone offers us a hand. It is said that it takes a village to raise a child; truly it takes a village to mourn its collective loss.

Blessings and courage for the days ahead
Donna Mann


Diana Dart said...

A beautiful and touching reminder. Thank you.

Peter Black said...

Thanks Donna. I really appreciate your warm, evocative Remembrance Day reflections.
Rashioning was still in effect in the UK when I was growing up in the early 50s. We accepted it as a necessary part of life.

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