In Flanders Fields — A Call to Remember

The Remembrance Day ceremonies that I’ve most enjoyed over the last 15 years have been the ones that took place on a small island, Bowen Island, British Columbia. Often I’ve been there with my friends Chris and Caitlin, who live on the island. It feels like so many of the islanders make effort to participate. They gather. For prayers. For appreciations. For a bit of silence. Some for a whiskey toast to honor family and loved ones. Huddled in winter jackets, rain coats, gloves, mittens, hats. Huddled as community. Remembrance Day in Canada honors loss, hope, indignity, and dignity — it calls people to remember war and invoke a possibility of added peace and community.

This year for Remembrance Day, yesterday, I was at my home in Utah. It is Veteran’s Day in the United States. I listened to a program at 11:oo a.m. and joined in moment of silence to offer appreciation, and a bit of grief, and I suppose a bit of courage for how so many of us are trying to evolve the human community.

I’ve always loved the poppies that are common in Canada and other Commonwealth Countries for Remembrance Day. Pinned on lapels, colors, bags. And I’ve always loved this poem, written in World War One by a Canadian soldier and surgeon, John McCrae, that speaks of WWI battle grounds near Northern France and Belgium.

Here’s to remembering. Loss, and hope, and simple commitments that mark us.


In Flanders Fields
John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.


Patient Trust

I love this photo from a walk last week near my home. I continue to think of my town as “where urban meets rural.” This time of year there are newborns from the rural side of things. In this photo in particular, it was fun to see what already is a miniature horse with newborn mini miniature horse. It threw my brain a bit to see the tiniest — the bigger horses are also in my neighborhood, a little further down the street. I also loved seeing the bond that is mother / young.

A friend and I are in some rather significant individual discernment these days. He in his, that regardless of choice, will shape much of the next years of his life. Me in mine, that, also, will shape much of the next years of my life. It often seems that the external is what it is all about — the job, what to do in the job, the move, how to make the move happen. Those things matter. And, I generally find that the external points to a significant internal. The “things” on the outside point to the “values” on the inside. To churn on the values, to experience external life that invokes inner awareness — that’s good stuff there.

After a call last night, seeking to bring internal to even the smallest layer of communal witnessing, same friend sent me the poem below by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the early 1900s French Philosopher and Jesuit Priest. I share it here, because sometimes I forget the scale that is the slow work — whether that be of divine, or inner. I need reminder of patient trust, not so much for all things to work out as I would like them, but rather, to remember that there is more happening at different scales that cultivate a trust, even of the new coming.


Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.



Memorial Day Orem 2016

It’s Memorial Day in the United States. Many people will be celebrating with backyard picnics and barbecues. Many outdoor swimming pools and parks will open. It is a long weekend, that for many, marks the beginning of summer.

I remember the first Memorial Day I experienced in the United States, in 1987. I was driving past a large cemetery in Provo, Utah. Cut flowers, bright yellow “mums” in potted plants, and small flags dotted nearly every gravesite. It was impressive.

For many, Memorial Day is opportunity to pay tribute to people in military service, past and present. At the airport today, the gate agent invited 30 seconds of silence to honor the military personnel on board our flight. In the crowded and cacophonous terminal, I was drawn to this simple and kind pause.

Memorial day has also become a day to generally honor people who have passed. My former spouse’s family had a great tradition of cutting flowers from their gardens, peonies if the growing season permitted, to place at the grave site of grandparents and other family. Then her dad would tell a story or two. It was playful. Often with laughter. Sometimes with tears. It was an invocation to remember.


For the last year when I’ve often been starting leadership events with an invocation to remember. Though many have come to learn what they think are new participative methodologies and frameworks, I often say, “I think we have come to learn and remember some things that we already know. We’ve come to remember some essential aspects of what it means to be in learning together, what it means to take journey together, and what it means to count on each other. Remember kindness. Remember curiosity. Remember the power of sharing a story as a way of learning together. Remember a quality of trust. Remember honesty together. Remember hope together.”

I don’t speak those words as a way to falsely motivate people, though I’m happy that they do settle participants into a simple narrative of what we are about to do for two to three days.


Sometimes remembering, memorializing, is about invoking the past. Sometimes, perhaps, the remembering is to realize that there is much that we already know about bringing a future into the present.