In Memory of Her – a Reflection on Remembrance

This year, more than any other, I have become aware of the church’s role of holding for many the hope of resurrection and eternal life. In funerals, the minister says things with certainty on behalf of those who are not sure. At the hospital bed, the priest has the confidence to midwife the dying person on to the next phase of their journey. In memorial services held close to All Souls Day, grief is treated as both holy and ordinary, a consequence of loving and being loved. At Remembrance day, wartime sacrifice is honoured and the possibility of peace is birthed in our imaginations.

Today, on the 11th day of the 11th month, I had lunch with two men who fought in the Second World War – they  still call each other ‘soldier’. I heard tales of evacuation and a poignant story of the sacrifice made by four young engineers who were killed when a landmine caught in a tree in Sparkhill exploded as they sought to diffuse it. Hours before they had diffused a bomb buried 22 feet down in the garden of an eight-year-old boy – that boy is now 84 and thanks them today for saving his life.

In our Sunday service we remembered using the litany below. But in this week, exactly one year after the death of a remarkable woman who was our friend, I could not help thinking of other kinds of heroes. Those who fight fear with all the bravery they can muster, those who refuse to surrender to self-pity and those who carry hope in the midst of suffering and bewilderment. I have added my partial memories to the original litany – these are the far more clumsy words in italics.  And alongside Libby, I wanted to remember women and men from all over the world who face conflict and seek peace with courage and compassion.

A Litany

In the rising of the sun
And its going down,
We remember them

In the courage of facing death
In the grip of hope and love

We remember her

In the blowing of the wind
And in the chill of winter
We remember them

In November grief, and joy
Of a life lived in fullness
We remember her

In the blueness of the sky
And in the warmth of summer
We remember them

In your love of bright places
Seeking the best in all things
We remember you

In the rustling of leaves
And in the beauty of autumn
We remember them

In elegant draping fabrics
Beauty created with loving touch
We remember you

In the beginning of the year
And when it ends
We remember them

In patient questions asked
And gentle humour
We remember you

When we are lost
And sick at heart
We remember them

When we are lost
And sick at heart
We remember you

When we have joys
We yearn to share
We remember them

When we have joys
We yearn to share
We remember you

So long as we live
They too shall live
For they are part of us
We remember them

We remember you,
Kidnapped schoolchildren
Women lynched for witchcraft
You who have been raped and beaten
Those travelling with little hope
You who died giving life to your child
We remember you.

All humankind is one vast family
This world is our home.
We sleep beneath one roof,
The starry sky.
We warm ourselves before
One hearth,
The blazing sun.

Upon one floor of soil we stand,
And breathe one air,
And drink one water,
And walk the night
Beneath on luminescent moon.
The children of one God we are,
Brothers and sister of one blood,
And members in one worldwide family of God.

From the Book of Remembrance: Cathedral of St Paul the Apostle, Los Angeles California

Remembering Libby Sheehan: 5th June 1967 – November 12th 2014

One thought on “In Memory of Her – a Reflection on Remembrance

  1. We loved your beautiful Remembrance blog, especially the litany. We did not think your bits were at all clumsy. I have been in touch with the website man who is called Ed Coles. He said he would ring Thomas after 4 tomorrow. Please let me know if he is going to be out or if that is inconvenient.Please thank him for considering it. Love Dazza

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s