As we remember…
This week there have been many opportunities for remembrance, including the poignant two minutes’ silences on Sunday and Wednesday. These few precious minutes give us a window through which to look back to those we have loved and lost through the world wars and more recent conflicts.
Both my mum and dad were in the RAF during WW2. My dad was in bomber command and on his 13th raid over Europe in 1942, he was shot down, and spent the rest of the war in German prison camps. When he returned home, emaciated and exhausted, there was no PTSD counselling, just a few weeks off to see his family, and a new posting to Andover, where he met my mum, who was an accounts clerk there. They married three years later and for the most part, lived happily ever after.
Dad could often be persuaded over a meal with the family to talk about some of the funnier sides of life as a POW, like the way they tried to sleep with minimum struts under their thin mattresses, as the rest were used as props for escape tunnels! But just occasionally, his mind would stray to the darker memories and I would see tears well up in his eyes. Such pain, but he didn’t dwell there. He’d take a deep breath, pull himself together and carry on.
My dad didn’t consider himself a Christian, mainly I think because of all the suffering he’d seen, but he was a man of extraordinary character. He knew how to grieve over loss but count his blessings, he knew how to face difficulties head-on and overcome them, and he was also a great husband, father and granddad – always generous and kind to the family he could not have imagined having in those dark POW days.
It’s my dad I focus on in those two-minute silences. What about you? We all have our own thoughts, our own stories, but the act of remembrance brings us together somehow to honour for a moment those long passed who have made such an important contribution to our lives.
Friday 13th November is National Kindness Day – instituted ten years ago to celebrate and promote good deeds and to unite us together to make the world a better place. I’m not sure about this one – like so many other so-called National Days, I don’t think it will achieve its lofty aims. But self-sacrifice and kindness to others are key for us all, especially in times of struggle like these days or those we have been remembering this week.
Such sacrifice and kindness are nowhere better modelled than in Jesus, and kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. Maybe we could each take a moment to reflect on this, not only remembering those who have sacrificed for us and recalling those random acts of kindness that have come at just the right time, but also asking God for more of this gift in our own lives and what we can do for others who He brings to mind. In days when meeting together is prohibited, maybe this is a way we can continue to build one another up and to build a community that shares the love and kindness of Christ with those around us.
Bless you all this week,