Hello folks — I hope that you are all in good health and spirits…
In this month of November, we remember those who have gone before us. We wear paper poppies in our lapels and pockets, and we visit the cemetery and attend special masses.
Unfortunately, when I returned home to my country abode in Posadas (Cordova), I missed out on the cemetery visit and special masses offered up by our lovely priest, Father José Miguel Bracero, because I have since been unwell with bad migraines, which are not only painful but can be quite dizzying, so was unable to attend nor able to get back into my usual swing of things. Nevermind — patience, perseverance, positivity and faith are my golden words, so soon I’ll be back to normal and make up for lost time!
However, I did go to visit a couple of cemeteries on my last days in England, to pay my respects. I have always loved to spend time in these green and countrified places, wandering around the graves that are shaded by trees and hung over by branches. I like to read the names and epitaphs, stopping to wonder about those lives that went before us. As I spend time there serenely, I’m sure that I can feel those spirits and souls that surround and accompany me, and because of this, it is easier to ‘connect’ with them and even pray for their happy departure from this world to the next.
The graves of my grandparents, father and uncle are also in one of these cemeteries, not far from the WWII bomb shelter; they lie under two weeping willows. In painful contrast, two graves stretch out either side; they belong to war soldiers — a gunner who was only 18 when shot down in his plane, and a 21-year-old sergeant. I can’t help shedding a tear for them and saying a prayer for not only these two young soldiers, but also for the hundreds that lie buried just a few metres away; their graves are marked by white crosses and a single red rose. It is nostalgic and emotional, as was the visit I once made to Normandy and the village of Sainte-Mère-Eglise, a land which is one great cemetery for all the fallen of the war. The village is like a museum, commemorating these soldiers.
I swear that just wandering over these lands I could feel my skin forming goosepimples as an incredible sadness washed over me… and this was even before I knew the history of this area…
Anyway, to get back to my local English cemeteries — I do love them! Perhaps because I became used to spending time in them when, as a child, I used to play in the one that separated my primary school, St Mary Magdalen, from the church with the same name — (more about this enigmatic character, the first apostle, in another blog).
This cemetery that lies between the church and the school provided us primary school kids with hours of fun as we sat, talked, laughed and played on the graves; we also did many headstone ‘rubbings’, immortalising the dead. I don’t think we were disrespectful in doing this — on the contrary, I think all those souls probably enjoyed our young, innocent laughter and goings-on!
Perhaps it is also because of this, that many times I feel a particular connection to certain souls and can feel their presence around me if I try. Generally, it is a very comforting and reassuring feeling… I think it is also important that the past is never forgotten, and so the month of November — also my birthday month! — is a special time set aside for remembering and honouring our faithfully departed.
(Photo by AndyScott – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57699842)
(Photo by Pjposullivan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74806271)
(Photo by AndyScott – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71109562)
Anyway, to end, I would just like to finish with a poem by Robert Laurence Binyon, dedicated to the fallen:—
For the Fallen
Robert Laurence Binyon (Lancaster 1869-1943)
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Thank you for reading — Happy November! Take care xxx