It was Sunday not Monday that became for me the essence of Memorial Day. There were so many moments when what I value in life was in my ears and in my eyes and in my heart.
First thing Sunday morning I listened to Being, a show on public radio. The guest was UU Minister Kate Braestrup. I've enjoyed her books a lot, and our minister has quoted her on occasion. Her interview discussed so many reasons to celebrate life and love. As the chaplain to Maine wardens, she does her ministry in the woods where accidents happen in the cold and dark. She told of a man who fell through thin ice. She could understand why he was compelled to skate out from a dock on a peaceful moonlit night. When his wife came to view his body, she sat with him singing songs to him. His was a life filled with wonder and love, even though it was short. Another of her stories focused on the love and care of wardens, boy scouts and other volunteers searching for an elderly woman lost in the snow. We did not hear whether she was found dead or alive. But, of course, Ms. Braestrup points out, we really do know her ending, and the ending for all of us. It is not whether we will die, but when and what we make of our lives until then.
Later at our church service, R sang as one of the 3 childrens' choir members who showed up on a holiday weekend. With support from the adult choir, they sang Song of the Regiment from Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment. With so few singers, I could hear R's sweet voice lilting down from the choir loft. It was a magical moment. We also sang a wonderful hymn called This is my Song. It is patriotic as it proclaims our love of country, but it also acknowledges the love that people all over the world hold for their lands. It was a fitting call for peace for all nations on a day when soldiers and civilians in many countries died.
This Is My Song
This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.
May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.****
And of course, Memorial Day would not be complete without a parade!
and kids in funny hats!