As I write this post (on Friday 3 August) I heard this morning that it is one hundred days before the centenary anniversary of Armistice Day for WW1. One hundred days to one hundred years.
I don’t know what it has been about these days of remembrance during the last four years when various events and battles have been commemorated, but every time I hear or read or witness one of them I find I have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. One of my grandfathers was in the British army during this time. I am not sure about the other. One of my husband’s grandfathers was a chaplain on the front lines – and the family has precious letters written by him to the lady who was to become my husband’s grandmother.
What a wicked time it was. What a privilege it has been to remember. Looking down on the mass of poppies made to commemorate the break out of the war at the Tower of London in 2014; Standing with a crowd of young people in silence at the Chelsea Flower Show gazing at the display of crocheted and knitted poppies in 2016; finding cenotaphs in unexpected places around France and England with poppy wreaths in memory of family members who died. Twenty per cent of those who left to fight did not return home they said today. Twenty per cent.
And now – at last – as I think back to that day at the Tower four years ago – at last – here we are approaching the centenary of the Armistice. What a lot has happened in my life in those four years. It has had its ups and downs. But nothing like those who lived one hundred years ago experienced. Nothing like that.
Have we learnt anything? I ask myself the question as I watch the scenes in Zimbabwe, Syria, Jerusalem; as I see the damage done in Afghanistan, the US and Croatia. My heart ached as I heard one young girl had said, ‘Well, it’s normal now, isn’t it?’
Is it? Is this the plan for the rest of the world? This was her normal. She knew nothing else.
What have the last one hundred years taught us?
Maybe they have not taught us very much.
What can we learn from that alone? How can we pass on the lesson that it is up to us to learn and teach to future generations? Plastic; waste; greed; power; selfishness. What lessons do we, one hundred years on, need to highlight and teach?
That it may end with us. Can we? Can we make a difference?
Where is God in this? Have we asked Him? What does He want us to learn and to teach?
So that, one hundred years down the track, in 2118, people may look back and say, ‘See, that’s where the change started. That’s where change began. That generation turned to God and made the difference?’
Can we be that generation? I pray that we can. Will you join me?