Lest we forget.

Lest we forget.

Who knows when these words were first written and by whom?  It is likely that few of our children will know unless they are avid readers or students of history.  And yet history of any kind is essential in developing a sense of balance.  Without memory a person becomes a near zombie and losing one’s memory is one of our greatest fears as we grow older.

Remembrance Day on 11 November is a time for memories.   No one living today will remember the actual day and time when on Armistice Day at 11 am a peace treaty was signed between the Allied Forces and Germany signalling an end to “the war to end all wars,” World War 1. It lasted 4 years and counted 17 million dead in combat or related effects.  But did it end all wars?   Hardly.  Twenty years later another World War broke out which lasted longer and in all resulted in over 60 million deaths, through combat, disease and famine.

Wars continue today in various forms across the world. Pope Francis describes the current world situation as World War III.   Have we forgotten the lessons?

War is costly.  Depending one one’s value system, most costly in human lives lost or maimed.   Nations at war also count the monetary cost, as do arms manufacturers rubbing their hands with glee at arms sales which line their pockets and of course boost a country’s economy.

These thoughts are hardly memories but should be born in mind when we speak about war and do remember our own beloved dead through war, any form of violence or any other cause.  Weapons are designed to destroy and kill people, as efficiently as possible.   Whether by a weapon, an accident, an illness or the natural progression of old age we remember the circumstances of the death of our loved ones. While can be extremely painful it is also good as part of one’s healing process to reflect, to re-accompany, to sit or stand side by side and have an opportunity to bid farewell to a body that no longer houses a soul.

In the process of bereavement ministry it is acceptable to remember the death and acknowledge its reality, feeling the pain of loss.  Memory is a complex brain function. For a time there might even be a void, a time of disbelief, “unreality,”  an absence of memories.   Gradually it is good to resurrect other life memories, positive and negative too, and share them with one another.   “Do you remember how grandad used to…………….”   “ I’ll never forget how my husband ………………….”   “I loved the way my wife used to…………….”    “Do you remember how we used to watch the children play – and fight – and you would say…………….   She is no longer here with us but our memories do live on.  It’s sometimes like yesterday and at other times it all seems so long ago.“

In coping with the loss, particularly through death during this month of November we join in prayer with the whole Church and pray for the repose of their souls and for their purification in whatever form their purgatory takes.  We pray for their loving acceptance into the glorious Kingdom of God and for our own joyful reunion one day in the future.

Dismissing memories, refusing to revisit them is a sadly missed opportunity to remain in relationship  and give a valuable gift to our children. It is part of a process of grieving that we are learning to understand and accept as a transition from death to eternal life.   it is then, we believe, that one day  there will be an end to war and “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. “There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed. Rev 21:4.       For more suggestions during this month visit    www.marfam.org.za/?s=november+remember+

There are dozens of quotes and images built around those famous words, “Lest we forget” and it is worth a search to capture some of the sentiments.   Still relevant and highly evocative is the presumed original, the 1897 prayer poem by Rudyard Kipling composed during the Queen Victoria Jubilee year.

RECESSIONAL  

Dresden February 1945

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

(extract  from Wikipedia)

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