Remembering in silence

Lois Petty reflects on the moment of silence that is part of the Remembrance Day service.

When we gather together on Remembrance Day, we come informally, one by one, greeting old friends, meeting new ones, shuffling around, waiting for the service to begin. We either watch the parade or join in the parade. Our hearts are touched by our veterans. We smile at our Cadets. But that’s not the beginning . . .

Remembrance Day doesn’t begin until we enter into the silence – a silence such as the silence discovered by Rachel Naomi Remen. This is what she tells us:

Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal.

The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are.

We are all hungry for this other silence.

It is hard to find.

In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing. Silence is God’s lap.

And out of that silence comes the power of remembering and each one of us, both our young and our old, have our own storeroom of memories.

We remember our country and our veterans. We remember the forever young. The boys who never came home. We remember the old Veterans. Those who came home. Those who shared their stories. Those who grow fewer and fewer each year.

Those who are my age remember going to the movies and seeing the news reels and at the end times, seeing young German boys. They were really only children, captured children, confused and lost who wished they were still home, sitting on their mothers’ laps. I know that seeing those boys filled our hearts with sorrow and compassion. Then we remember that each country has their own story written in heartbreak and in love.

Bishop Tutu tells us that God has a dream, A dream where we recognize that we are all one. That God, by whatever name you might call that universal spirit of love, is calling us to truth and reconciliation – to hear the stories of the victims; to hear the stories of the perpetrators; to hear with compassion and with love; to absorb the sorrow and the suffering; to see that we are all one, all the children of a powerful love and that sometimes we are called to sit on God’s lap and sometimes we are called to BE God’s lap.

That is what we need to remember on Remembrance Day. That there is no “war to end all wars”. It is only love that gives us the power to reach out to one another in love. That is the pathway to Peace. We see that path every time we bow our head in silence. Silence is a place of great power and healing.  Silence is God’s lap – and don’t forget, we are the only lap God has.

Lois Petty