Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sanctity and Honor

Site of the Battle of Petersburg, Civil War, now just another field

There is sanctity of places and events that we tend to ignore.  There is no sign, or sound effects.  No actual fireworks announce the conception of a baby.  No arrow pointing to a place that says, “I almost got hit by a car, right here!”  No, unless there is a brass plaque that has been dedicated by a ceremony, we seldom know that anything momentous ever happened right there.

I have been to many cemeteries, maybe too many.  Growing up in my community, the cemetery was frequently visited for a variety of reasons, not just to ‘plant a body’.  No, we went there to honor someone there, who was loved and cared for long after they died.

Died.  What a harsh word.  When my mother died in April, I came back to my home in California.  A man at church asked me how my mother was.  I had just returned the day before.  I looked him in the eye, and said, “Oh, she died the day we got there.”  He winced.  I saw it: a wince.

Do we all wince at the word?  It is much kinder to say, “passed away”, or “gone”, maybe “left us”.  But that is silly in my thinking.  She  died.

We were in Washington, DC, not too long ago.  We are history nuts, not buffs; “nuts” is the truth.  We stood in various places, and said “Over there, they built up a dirt berm to keep the British back” or “Here is where Jefferson said…”  We stood in the World War II Memorial, and walked around the circle. 

In honor of the Australian soldiers who died at Gallipol

My father once told me about a conversation he had with a stranger, a veteran like himself.  They talked about the war, where they had been.   They talked about the proposed memorial.  Dad said, “Well, I don’t know… pause, he always had long pauses…look around us.  We got a whole country of memorials for what we done.”  He was referring to the economic boom and the building of modern America, that followed the big World War.

Red poppies in Flanders Fields, France

So many millions died during that War.  Are all those towns, fields, forests, and jungles marked by plaques?  No. 

Sanctity—we need to remember there are places and events that need to be remembered as sacred, or holy.  Why?  Because someone died there, something enormous happened.

In honor of the upcoming Veterans’ Day, November 11th.


  1. Beautiful posting....and the sacrifice of life goes on. We need to mark a place in our hearts for remembrance of what happened "there".

  2. Great post and it's always nice when one can distinguish between being a buff and a nut..haha, I'm the later most of the time.

  3. I'm loving this. So many interesting thoughts here. And I love what your Dad said about the whole country being a memorial for what we did.

  4. I meant, what HE did. I didn't do anything! :)

  5. Dear Susan,
    Thank you for reminding us that we so often stand on ground that has ben consecrated by the blood of those who have fought for life and love, freedom and security, and the right to be.

    There is a holiness to that ground as there is to any sharing that touches the deepest center of ourselves. Your posting touched me today at that center where we meet in the Oneness of a shared belief. Thank you.



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