Remembrance Day

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower

 by Rainer Maria Rilke

Quiet friend who has come so far, 
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.

 Let this darkness be a bell tower and you the bell. 
As you ring, what batters you becomes your strength. 

Move back and forth into the change. 
What is it like, such intensity of pain?

 If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine. 
 In this uncontainable night, 

be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses, 
the meaning discovered there. 

And if the world has ceased to hear you, 
say to the silent earth: I flow. 

To the rushing water, speak
I am. 

 Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29
 translation by Joanna Macy + Anita Barrows

Emily Sande sings Abide With Me.

Canadian stretcher bearers in Flanders fields
photographed in 1915, around the time that Canadian John McCrae 
wrote his world famous war memorial poem In Flanders Fields. Source.

English: Ploughmen.--Fac-simile of a Miniature...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The plow has savaged this sweet field
Misshapen clods of earth kicked up
Rocks and twisted roots exposed to view
Last year's growth demolished by the blade.

I have plowed my life this way
Turned over a whole history
Looking for the roots of what went wrong
                Until my face is ravaged, furrowed, scarred.               
Enough. The job is done.

Whatever's been uprooted, let it be
Seedbed for the growing that's to come.
I plowed to unearth last year's reasons-
The farmer plows to plant a greening season.

                      Parker Palmer         

More on Parker Palmer and further extracts  from here.

There is a lovely accompanying reflection on Parker Palmer's poem from the Contemplative Photography blogsite here.
and I think too of these verses from Isaiah
 Isaiah 28:23-29

Listen and hear my voice;
    pay attention and hear what I say. 
When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
    Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil? 

When he has leveled the surface,
    does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
    barley in its plot,
    and spelt in its field? 
His God instructs him
    and teaches him the right way.
Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
    nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
    and cumin with a stick   

Grain must be ground to make bread;
    so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it,
    but one does not use horses to grind grain. 

All this also comes from the 
Lord Almighty,
    whose plan is wonderful,
    whose wisdom is magnificent.

“Be Still, My Soul” 

“Be Still, My Soul” was the favorite hymn of Eric Liddell.  He is perhaps best known for refusing to run on Sunday in the 1924 Olympics, a story made famous in the film, Chariots of Fire.Later in life, Liddell would become a missionary to China.  During World War II he was captured and confined to a prisoner of war camp, where he eventually died of a brain tumour.

It was this hymn that he taught to the other prisoners in the camp to provide comfort and hope, to strengthen their faith.  In the midst of loss, disappointment, grief, and fear, Liddell remembered and taught others that the day was coming when all of that would be gone, and Jesus Christ would remain forever.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake

To guide the future as He has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart

And all is darkened in the vale of tears;

Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on

When we shall be forever with the Lord,

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

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