War and Gratitude – Ode to Memorial Day

Lovely little yellow rosebud, hankering to blossom, kissed by the lips of morning dew, blessed are you not to have an enemy in the world. When your life is cut off it is only so that your beauty may adorn a cozy room. No one cries. 

Little do you know of mass murderers, of tyrants and despots, of hatred gone wild, horrifying human beings disgracing God’s image. 

Pity us dear rosebud that too often freedom must be purchased with life’s blood over and again. How grievous to be torn from our dearly beloved; how the heart aches that must live with memories instead of hugs and kisses. Even more tragic than war for freedom, is brothers who annihilate each other in bloodied hope of prevailing in an argument.

O what great suffering man endures to root out a cancer within his body.

What depths of distress the brave militant endure who root out the cancer of paralyzing conflict. 

Rosebud longing to greet the world with open yellow petals let us give thanks together. How shall we express our gratitude to our countrymen who died in battle? What has a pauper to offer the king? Will you send up your rosy fragrance to the heavens where the immortal fallen sit at feast on this day of honor? 

The little rosebud opened gently to reveal an inner petal and with that movement said, "Fragrance I have but it is not gift enough." 

Then let us compose a symphony of thanksgiving with strings and symbols.

Let it sound like heartbeats in fear and then evolve into the sound of angels cheering. Let our symphony end with the ringing of bells, heralding the slain into the kingdom of heaven. 

With help from a passing breeze the little rosebud shook in disapproval.

“Could a tune express the gratitude of millions through the centuries who have benefited by the sacrifice? No, music is not gratitude enough. They bravely suffered terror and death. Men of peace sent to kill and be killed. Music is not gratitude enough.” 

Suddenly my ears opened to the chirping of mourning doves and ruby red cardinals, a cacophony of language. Who will translate for me? 

The birds all said, each in its way, "Their sacrifice means nothing to us, but from our perches on high we see that the only fitting expression of gratitude is to show the fallen brave that you are worthy of their sacrifice. Be truthful and just in all your dealings America. Disagree respectfully, politely and without bitterness. A house divided cannot stand. Embody the values of your constitution. Honor the fallen brave with righteousness. Are you grateful enough?” 

And with that the rosebud blossomed and a new breeze lifted the flag for a show of stars and stripes and I heard bells ringing. The rose whispered, “Gratitude is costly too. May God look upon our nation favorably and may we be worthy of His blessings and protection.” 

Let us say ‘Amen’

Remember the Revolution

Today we were going to start out on a mystical vacation with a two-foot tall angel named Juan Diego, but it happens to be the 4th of July, Independence Day. This day is much too important to ignore, so our vacation will have to begin next Sunday. Meanwhile, start packing.

Aspiring immortals get out your flags and wave them high, high enough for all the angels in heaven to see. Even if our ancestors were far far away from America in 1776, when we adopted this country, we adopted the brave signers of the Declaration of Independence as our forefathers, and their protestation as our cry.

Today we keep the memory of what they did alive because it was brave, and intelligent, and right. To remember the words of the Declaration of Independence forces us to measure this country by what they revolted and died for: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and equally vital: freedom from tyranny and oppression.

Are we the America they demanded? Are we alert enough to recognize and revolt against tyranny and oppression even when it creeps in from within our government? Are we brave enough to demand liberty? Do we consider that the right to life extends to the most vulnerable among us and do we fight to protect that right? Finally, are we free to pursue happiness? Yes! I say yes to all. We are that America they demanded 234 years ago today!

On the day we cut the cord that tied us to Great Britain, Americans became more aware of humanity’s dependence on God who created us equal and was able to protect and provide for this rich young country-full of industrious men and women.  Let us maintain that awareness of our ultimate dependence on God, for all that we are, and all that we have, and all that we aspire to.

May our gunpowder always be used for glorious showers of light, and when it is not, let it be for the most noble causes.

What does this have to do with aspiring to live in Kingdom Come? I say, be faithful in the small things and God will grant you greater. A good citizen of America will make a good citizen of the new earth. Rejoice in our freedom to disagree; may right and goodness always prevail in our holy land, America. Amen.

Remember Sacrifice

Even as an aspiring immortal who tries always to keep one foot in heaven, a person who wants more than anything to live happily ever after in Kingdom Come, I am in awe of those Americans who from day-one to now have been willing to go to war knowing they could be killed. They are martyrs for the cause of freedom and democracy.

Freedom to think and say whatever is in our hearts, and democracy which is the Greek idea of diffusing power among the people seem to be just like God’s plan to allow mankind to choose between life and death, to choose between following Him down the path to immortality or freely going the other way and to choose those in authority over us even as we can freely submit to His power and authority.

A martyr who is also an aspiring immortal knows that God will catch him or her when (s)he throws his or her body into dangerous places to protect the American democratic faith. To me, that person is a saint and should be honored like one.

To be brave enough to risk your life, and then to lose your life in this world so that others may live free and freely submit to God’s authority seems to be just like Jesus Christ marching up to Golgotha. I know that Jesus died so humanity could become immortal; He died to destroy death, but doesn’t it seem similar when brave (wo)men die to destroy tyranny and oppression?

I have read many stories that take place during World War II and each time I am amazed at the atrocities and how widespread the horrors became, and then I flash forward to today and it amazes me more that as one enemy was vanquished, another one surfaced. I suppose on this old earth evil will never stay away because men’s hearts are filled with a lust for power over others. Yet, we must continue to fight evil on a grand scale for the same reason we must fight it within. What a relief to know that someday and forever we will be rid of the foolishness of evil.

Until then, I want to thank the brave ones who risked their lives and lost them for the sake of freedom and democracy. I suppose Memorial Day is not too different from All-Saints day. I wonder if they can hear us thanking them, if they can see us playing and having fun with our freedom and if this makes them very happy.