As we prepare for Remembrance Sunday, it seems appropriate that this month the message from the Vicarage should come from the Vicar’s husband Geoff, a veteran of the 2nd World War.
Remembrance-tide comes round again and we wear our poppies, firstly to commemorate the sacrifice of all those we believe to have died in the cause of justice. But we must also see them as reminders of mankind’s seemingly insatiable desire to inflict death and destruction on human beings.
Nothing has brought this stark truth home to me as painfully as the current BBC series on the Vietnam war, which revealed that the 3 million tons of explosive dropped in Laos in one year was a million tons more than the total dropped in Germany and Japan throughout the Second World War.
Yet a different truth emerges in John Lewis-Stempel’s book, ‘Where Poppies Blow’ – the invincibility of the natural world, God’s world, and the love that constantly reasserts itself in his children.
So we read not only that the nightingales and larks actually sang more loudly over the First World War battlefields in defiance of the guns but, even more wonderful, soldiers hardened in conflict cared for even the lowliest of creatures they found in distress: ‘On the first day of the Somme, British soldiers carried a shell-shocked partridge to safety; in the same battle an officer guarded a plover’s nest for half an hour to protect eggs from being trampled by soldiers passing up to the front line’
This was a living God at work, demonstrating that he would not then, and will not now, abandon us despite the worst we can do.