23 May The Meditative Approach
Contributed by Ann Metlay
I sit at my computer, ready to write a blog for CUL. Memorial Day is coming. This has been a national holiday I have struggled with over time. As a proud anti-war activist, starting sixty years ago, I, at one time, I tended to lay rather low as this holiday came and went. Now I welcome it.
One of my most formative weeks in my life was the week I spent in a church camp, isolated, (no phone, no mail), amidst the Sequoia trees near Yosemite. The year was 1960. Our country had blockaded East Germany as a protest for their walling off their portion of Berlin. War was a conceivable consequence for this action. We hiked into camp knowing this confrontation had begun, but without any knowledge of what was to happen next.
We high school students, overrode the planned agenda for the week in order to focus our attention on the world conflict, and contribute our prayers to impact world leaders. For the week, we sang peace songs. We we spent hours in silent prayer and meditation in order to advance peace.
At the end of the week we learned the Communists had backed down. War had been averted. We hiked out of the camp less idealistic than we had been when we entered. but we also learned that prayers had an impact on a critical world situation, at least for each of us.
Today, I feel strongly I need to participate actively in the Memorial Day rituals. I still do not condone war, I do not believe the Higher Power to whom I pray could possibly condone war. I regularly pray for peace in all forms. Over time I have come to understand, given the current world stage, war cannot be averted. And, there is a need to honor those who have fought to keep this country free.
At a time when our country is as bitterly divided as it was in 1971, when Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day, I believe, is an important day when we put aside our political differences, and honor all of our fallen soldiers. These men died in defense of this country. They must be thanked for their sacrifice.
In addition to those soldiers who died in battle, I believe this is a time to honor those veterans who died as victims of suicide or drug abuse. Watching comrades die in battle, surviving narrow escapes where others did not, traumatized these men in ways we cannot imagine.
Although we, as a country, are divided by many concerns, we are united in horror by what is happening in the Ukraine and other battlefields across the world,. The war crimes, the tremendous toll and deaths of the civilians, their overwhelming need to leave everything, to flee those battles appall us. We recognize the dreadful toll of all those involved in these conflicts. We are united in saying, “Never here!”
And, so on Memorial Day, next Monday, before we down a few beers, grab a steak or burger off the grill, let us pause to honor those fallen, whether in battle or because of the aftereffects of their sacrifice to our country. And, let us be sure to thank all veterans for their service to our great country.