I am so close to finishing the loft room at last; filling my last banker's box; this one with funeral bulletins, wedding invitations--that kind of thing--I can't steel myself to throw away these evidences of lives lived.
Yesterday evening, I picked up one small bundle of cards inside a bulletin that declared "A Service to Celebrate the Life of Christopher Cater--4th May 1921--22nd January 2003. My dad's funeral.
"How fitting," I thought, "That I should find this on the eve of Remembrance Day," for he was an old soldier; a role fulfilled for a just a few of the overall span of his almost 82 years, but one which once played, forevermore changed and defined him.
Inside the bulletin are two hymns: The Lord is My Shepherd, and Just As I Am, a hymn that meant something to Dad, even though he staunchly wrestled with God as though he was somehow the enemy. Here is the last verse, which with all my heart I pray was true for him:
Just as I am, Thy love unknown
hath broken every barrier down;
now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Text: Charlotte Elliott, 1789-1871
On the back of the bulletin is a poem I chose because I loved it:
Prayer of a Soldier in France
My shoulders ache beneath the pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back.)
I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart.)
Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek.)
I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.
(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)
My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come.)
Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me
Than all the hosts of land and sea.
So, let me render back again
This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.
(He was an American poet and journalist who died on the battlefield in World War 1)
Today we remember, and give thanks for those who sacrificed so much. We pray, too, for those sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers who are in harm's way overseas. Dear Lord, watch over them.