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Remembrance Gathering


Among us and between us
there are spaces
left by those
for whom war was the greatest cost

soldiers and nurses
land army and lumber jills
the blitzed and the terrorised

among us and between us
there are spaces we cannot fill with poppies and cornflowers
clear shadows in pews between us
of those we have not forgotten
and whose space we cannot fill

among us and between us
there is a silence
there is a space
the invisible in the visible
that holds all people
in a love greater than everything

And in such love
we gather to remember
and worship




On the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war
there are a lot of things happening
church towers with cascades of knitted poppies
lights lit in the moat of the Tower of London

but most happened
in the bit
that had least happening in it

the silence

It was hardly two minutes
That’s a couple of dozen breaths
but it is the only bit
that was big enough
to hold
our remembrance

And it hasn’t changed

In the length of years since the end of World War One
the world has changed
the way we do war
the priorities we have
the technology we use
the values we hold

but the silence hasn’t

it hasn’t lengthened
or shortened
it is still exactly the same

and unlike our words
or our compassion
or our memories
which are all limited
silence isn’t

not in its length
but in its depth

There is no safety net
it exposes our emotions
where there is nothing to protect them
it lays bare our hurts
our anger
our pain
our sadness
our loss
our impatience with conflict
holds a mirror to the worst of us
and the best

there is no word of comfort in silence
no sound of alarm
no warning notice

you just sink deep
in the wordless
of silence

and there find the battles of Ypres
and the stories of the Somme
the horror of Gallipoli
and the fear in Dresden
the destruction of Clydebank
and the danger of Omaha
the Gulf

and the stories of those left behind
the nurses and workers
the land army and the teachers
the families broken
as the warring goes on
the injured for life
and the life of injury

It takes two minutes
of doing nothing
to do all that

in doing nothing
we do everything
in silence



Remembrance 2018

                          John 15:9-17




the invisible in the visible

it is not a poppy
it is not a cornflower
it is not a wreath
a flag
or a dove

it is silence
which hardly leaves a mark:
the invisible
in the visible

it leaves nothing
but a hole
where words could be
but can’t be said

a hole
where the noise of conflict
finds reason to stop

a hole
where nothing
can speak, explain or understand

the invisible
in the visible,
a hole
in everything
that leaves nothing

for there is
we can do


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