It’s war again!

And so it continues, and we continue to look on from afar. Our souls are in turmoil even though our homes remain as orderly as they were days ago. Nothing has changed in our homes, in fact we are beginning to plant seeds in the yard now that the Spring has arrived with its promise of warmer days. Yet for all too many Spring has arrived with little promise as war continues to ravage homes and hearts. The UK poet laureate, Simon Armitage, reminds us in a new poem that the images we see speak not just of the present but of the distant past – so what has changed – sadly nothing its war again! In fact the title of Armitage’s poem Resistance reminds me of a novel by Owen Sheers, himself a poet and author, whose book Resistance tells a powerful story of resistance by the woman of a Welsh village during WWII when all the men had left to fight.

Take a moment to ponder the poem and its many images and as you read offer a prayer for the people of Ukraine in the midst of their hell.

Resistance

It’s war again: a family
   carries its family out of a pranged house
      under a burning thatch.

The next scene smacks
   of archive newsreel: platforms and trains
      (never again, never again),

toddlers passed
   over heads and shoulders, lifetimes stowed
      in luggage racks.

It’s war again: unmistakable smoke
   on the near horizon mistaken
      for thick fog. Fingers crossed.

An old blue tractor
   tows an armoured tank
      into no-man’s land.

It’s the ceasefire hour: godspeed the columns
   of winter coats and fur-lined hoods,
      the high-wire walk

over buckled bridges
   managing cases and bags,
      balancing west and east – godspeed.

It’s war again: the woman in black
   gives sunflower seeds to the soldier, insists
      his marrow will nourish

the national flower. In dreams
   let bullets be birds, let cluster bombs
      burst into flocks.

False news is news
   with the pity
      edited out. It’s war again:

an air-raid siren can’t fully mute
   the cathedral bells –
      let’s call that hope.


Prayer:
Merciful God,
we pray for the millions in Ukraine
who follow the ones in front,
and as they follow,
they wear and carry their whole lives,
and with heavy hearts
carry decades of memories,              
lips still tasting that farewell kiss,
arms embracing children and elderly parents.                                  
They follow those in front,
fearful to look behind.   
Merciful God, be real to all. Amen

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