In a string of hot, steamy July days, this one dawned wet. We woke to the sound of rain drumming on skylights, from clouds of roiling gray.
The hills were overhung by mist and moisture, the dark skies deepening the gold and green of the fields.
Driving in to my office in Bradford, I glance at the sign at Sobey's grocery store. The message this morning isn't about this week's grocery specials, but tells of a community in mourning:
"Our Thoughts and Prayers Are With the Collier Family," it reads.
An article in the The Barrie Examiner carries the headline, Fallen Soldier on His Way Home. "Home" is here; where we live. A place we are grateful to be. A place that Sapper Brian Collier of Bradford, Ont. and 1 Combat Engineer Regiment in Edmonton, won't be coming back to, really.
An photograph in the National Post shows a young man in the bloom of youth. It is so hard to make sense of such a tragic loss.
I drive on, and close to my office I pass an old man, carrying a white plastic shopping bag. I pass him often on my way to or from work.
He has white hair and a mustache and his military bearing and age, remind me of my father. I think that he might be a fellow "old soldier." Maybe one day I will stop and say, "Hello;" and ask.
Last night at cell group Paul mentioned his great, great, grandfather, Thomas Hartwright, who came back from the Boer War to Upton –upon-Severn in the Malvern Hills . It was the turn of the 19th century.
Thomas was taken in by an elderly Christian lady who found him drunk on her doorstep and he came to personal faith in Christ through her kindness. I wonder if drinking was his way to forget the awful things he had witnessed at war.
My own father carried shrapnel wounds that bothered him for the rest of his life, but the wounds we couldn't see, cut the deepest, and he was never free of those either. We all missed knowing the man he would have been if he had never gone to war.
I wish I had profound answers--easy rights and wrongs--but I don't. All that I can do is care for the Collier family in their loss, mourn with them, pray for them to feel God's strength and comfort, and honour the sacrifice their son Brian made for others.