The Art of Remembering

I Remember
The official motto of Quebec. “I remember.”

There is a time to remember, to look back, to give thanks, to mourn.  Some moments come back with vibrant clarity while others with a lingering wistfulness, and still others with a melancholy loneliness. Memories give meaning to our lives.  It is our way of saying that we have passed this way and we will remember.  We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.   We grieve at funerals and lament the possibilities of what might have been.

Vimy Ridge
Battle of Vimy Ridge April 9 – 12, 1917

Remembering is both an act of courage and hope.  It is embracing all that life has to offer, whether it be joy or pain, laughter or tears.  When we remember, our creative spirit allows us to experience the full measure of our emotional responses.   We hear a strain of music, read the line of poetry, recognize an idea in a painting.   We listen to the stories. This is the best of what art offers.

Today, as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, Canada observed Remembrance Day, “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.”  Streets were filled with people wearing brilliant red poppies, reminiscent of the poppies that bloomed across Flanders, during WWI.  As a nation, we remember the sacrifice of brave men and women who served.  We remember the families who suffered the loss of loved ones.  We remember that peace is a gift that demands our highest commitment.

We Remember

 “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.”

Laurence Binyon, For the Fallen

Written on the Cliffs, North Cornwall UK

In Memory
Christ Church Cathedral: RCAF motto: Per Ardua Ad Astra “Through hardships to the stars.”

21 Comments

  1. Britt Skrabanek

    “Remembering is both an act of courage and hope.” So beautifully true! I think people often get too caught up in the future, of the things that haven’t happened yet—things they have no control over. I suppose it’s easier to get lost in that.

    It’s important to remember where we’ve been, and the people who have made a difference in our lives.

    1. Clanmother

      It is very, very easy to get lost in the future. I think it is based on our need to preserve safety and certainty. We worry about what will happen – to our families, our home, our possessions. Things that, as you said so eloquently, “haven’t happened yet.” We want to mitigate risk, even though we cannot quantify the risk. We fear the loss of something we hold precious. What we do know is that we live in a complex world that is rapidly changing, with variables that cannot be fully recognized until they stop us in our tracks. One of my favourite quotes, one that came to me when I had to make a very difficult choice was by Helen Keller in her book “The Open Door.”

      “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

      May we chose to live a daring adventure…

  2. Letizia

    What beautiful words. I am always surprised that Nov. 11 is not a holiday in America but perhaps the school children learn about what happened in school. I hope they do as it really should be a day of reflection.

    1. Clanmother

      Very well said – a day of reflection. A day where we are reminded that the sacrifice of others is our call to action: to seek peaceful outcomes, as individuals, a community, a nation. As I stand out in the cold, hearing the sounding of the “Last Post” I think back to the last words of Sun Tzu in “The Art of War.”

      “No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his
      own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.
      If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay
      where you are.
      Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded
      by content.
      But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again
      into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.

      1. Letizia

        The photos in that post are beautiful! What a good idea to listen to it as it was based on oral tradition. I think I will do the same if my local library has it. Thank you for the suggestion. Hope you’re having a good week and that the autumn leaves continue to shower down on you in their red and yellow glory!

  3. ernstblumenstein

    Eine schöne Erinnerung an den 1. Weltkrieg ist dir mit diesem Beitrag gelungen, liebe Rebecca. Ich wusste gar nicht mehr, dass kanadische Soldaten in Flandern kämpften und starben. Ok, ich glaube, die kämpften für die Engländer. Wir Menschen brauchen eine Erinnerungs-Kultur, damit wir wenigstens wissen – woher wir kommen.
    Liebe Grüsse Ernst

    1. Clanmother

      Danke Ernst, für Ihren Besuch und Kommentare. Gedenktag erinnert mich, dass wir alle wachsam sein. Konflikte auftreten, in unserem persönlichen Leben. Verständnis und Mitgefühl ist der erste Schritt, um eine friedliche Ergebnisse. Wenn Konflikte auftreten, Umsicht und Weitsicht sind die besten Begleiter.

  4. Ms Frances

    Thank you for this meaningful post. We remember, how can we forget!! Your father served in the Pacific and he came back. Some of his friends did not. He remembered! What bravery in such dangerous and woeful times! We can only be truly thankful for the life that we enjoy at the awful cost of so many!

    1. Clanmother

      Novembers have a bitter chill and most of us shiver when we attend Remembrance Services at the Cenotaph. I imagine what it must have been like to be in the trenches, cold and wet. We can come home to our warm homes and hot tea, but there are those who stand watch. I agree – dangerous and woeful times.

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