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There is a place

deep in all of us

beyond nationalism



that hears only silence

that knows its depth

its pain

its hope

and its story


It is that silence we touch today

and share between us

in remembrance

for that for which we have no words

yet for that for which shapes us to become more fully human


Let us gather there again

and know because we can hold silence

we still have hope

and in that depth of remembrance

we worship


Listen, I have a vision, a long vision

that one day there will be fields 

known for battles, terrible battles

scattered with the names of too many

whose own stories have bled into the earth

and now haunt the dithering cornflower;

fields whose histories have shamed us 

and honoured us at the same time;

fields so vast they contain all the stories 

of our conflicts and loss and hopes and cost;

fields that stretch beyond the eye,

yet where no poppy is found;

fields where there is no curve of red,

flicker of crimson,

fragility of scarlet,

for these are fields where no foot has trod,

and no body has fallen,

and no shell has exploded,

and no tank has driven,

where no poppy seed,

seeds that need ground to be disturbed to grow,

have been given that chance,

for we have listened to the stories of the ghosts 

and humanity has learned to live with each other

without marching through fields to war.

I have a vision, a long vision,

that one day there will be fields, many fields

and each will be bereft of poppies.


                            James 1:19-27




Loving God

may we finish with the words

that speak too much

about power and right

about heroes and patriotism


May we instead

stay with the silence

that shapes compassion

and pain

and a truth 

too deep to speak of


the silence

that moves us towards each other

in that unique space

that knows

what we truly share

in this day

and what we do together

in this act 

and what it means for us all

that is costly


worth something

beyond the excuses

and reasoning

and politics the world offers


May we let the words lie

in the poppy fields of Flanders

on the peninsula of Gallipoli

the beaches of Juno and Gold 

in the mountains of Afghanistan

in the ruins of Syria


and let the silence speak

and tell the greater story

of our humanity

and our hope

that knows the cost of such silence

and what such silence tells us about ourselves


May we listen

O God

to the silence

and hear the silence

that returns


So be it



Listen to the silence

for in such silence

we begin to see the forms

of men and women

appearing around us

faint shifts in the pattern of the air

that hint at vague outlines

of those who are missing


It is the depth of their silence

that reminds us of such cost

moves us more deeply

for what is profound

more than laying aside our words

and our points of view

silencing our politics of power

is creating the space

to listen to the other

and hear only silence returned


Listen to the silence

for in such a silence

we find the truth

of our humanity

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