Monday, May 26, 2014
And I Remember ...
I saw the deer standing alongside the two lane road as I drove the twenty minute ride to church. Her head turned as I slowly passed, and she looked right at me. I waved, and said: “Hello, miss deer.” And although I didn’t hear her response, I think she said: “Well, it’s nice seeing you, but today is going to be a busy day for me, so I must be off,” and she turned and walked back into the woods. It is a beautiful Memorial Day in Michigan, and everyone seems to have so much to do.
Our parish remembers the sacrifices of our service men throughout the year, with a special mass for them each Friday night. But at this day’s mass we especially recalled those who died from our parish family, even as we remembered those forty-two presently serving in the military --- their names are listed each week in our parish bulletin. And we sang a song, at the mass opening AND closing, which is rarely sung anymore: God Bless America. I fear that most children don’t even know the words to it anymore.
As mass began, I saw the attendance was sparse, and most troubling was the few children there, in this parish of huge faith-filled families. Perhaps they had something more important to do, and started their day’s tasks early. Or perhaps they were not being adequately taught, by word or example, about the purpose and value and blessings of this country, and how much we have to be grateful for. As I’ve read, perhaps they are being taught in our schools to be ashamed of this country, and to not celebrate those who would defend it. Jesus came and changed the world; that is history. Would those who would now seek to change this country have similar reasons to His? Would they be willing to die for love of each and every person, as He did, or is the only person they value change for, themselves? Studies show that few of those who seek “hope and change” serve in our military.
I took the back way home from church, down dirt roads I seldom travel. I passed woods and ponds, some covered with ducks and geese (and goslings, too!), and others covered in their summer’s umbrella of green algae. I passed stately farmhouses --- always painted white --- surrounded by great expanses of open fields. No signs of the amber waves of grain – yet. Nor were there signs of the Michigan corn which would grow there --- supposed to be “knee high by the Fourth of July;” it’ll have to grow fast to make that deadline. And I passed a small country church, and next to it gravestones of past church members, largely forgotten now as families died out or moved on. All this is part of America, the America we shouldn’t forget, nor let our children forget.
And then too soon I saw the pavement beneath my wheels, and the bulldozers and the wooden frames of homes under construction. It’s called progress, and it indeed is. But we too easily forget all that came before, all those who sacrificed to make progress possible. Those were our brothers and sisters, they were our ancestors, and they were AND ARE our family. We too often forget --- and fail to teach our children often enough --- that there is a heaven, THE reason for this life, and that we are all part of the Body of Christ, all our family members, those alive, and those even more alive in death --- still today, no less our family.
I remember words from the closing song of the play, Camelot: “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot.” I don’t want those to be words sung about America.
We can’t let them be forgotten.
I made a detour through downtown Plymouth. Sadly, the Plymouth Nursery hasn’t done its job yet, of planting beautiful flowers on the main street of town in remembrance of mom, on this her first Memorial Day in heaven, where I trust she remembers me also. Perhaps they too had more important things to do.
But it matters not, because amidst all the ceremonial remembering going on this day, I do remember mama.
Today will be another day of flower planting for me; I fear it will be the start of another WEEK of planting before I am done, but it is enjoyable work. I think I’ll put some patriotic music on the CD player, as I fill the planters on the front porch, under the new flag which waves from the post there. I guess that’s another thing that you don’t hear much anymore, patriotic songs. Like the Christmas carols, Memorial Day once rang with patriotic songs from every radio station. But that’s probably another example of music and words which our kids don’t remember; I wonder if they forgot, or never learned them.
I guess I’m getting old, recalling things as they were and, I think, as they should be, but in recalling these things it’s not myself that I am sad for.
But I shall always remember …