Today was Remembrance Sunday.
I sit by the fire at home as I type, and think of the men I love – none of whom have been conscripted, none of whom have had to go to war and fight. Although my father felt the worst of the blitz in London’s East End, his home razed by the bombing one night, he was a child. There are very many families locally who were horribly affected by the destruction of Coventry in WW2, and so many youngsters moving through Kineton CAD and local regiments who have seen dreadful conflict, but in the rural tranquility of South Warwickshire it is easy to forget.
Today we stood at the war memorial in Tysoe for the laying of the poppy wreaths and prayers, and I gave thanks again for the relative peace of our lives. How many generations over centuries have had the luxury of not losing fathers, husbands and sons in the chaos of war? So few. Unlike through so many centuries past, not every family is in that position today – and it feels so important to acknowledge those families who are losing loved ones now.
In order not to clash with the village event, we laid our wreath at the war memorial at Sun Rising on Thursday, 11 November. For five minutes or so at 11 am, four of us stood in silence and paid our respects. It was a beautiful moment. The stone cairn memorial felt raw in its newness compared with the lichen-covered stone of the old village memorials. But in many ways that is a reflection of Sun Rising and nature’s strength : in early December we shall plant a few dozen trees in a horseshoe around the memorial, guelder rose, dog rose and silver birch. And in the spring, when the earth at the cairn’s base greens with wild flowers and grasses, and the trees come into bud, my heart will lift again.
A friend was at the burial ground when I arrived after the village memorial service was done. A helicopter pilot in the army, he had driven up to Sun Rising on his motorbike to sit with his thoughts and feelings in the quiet of the place, to remember, at 11 am. Before he left, we hugged, and tears silently touched his cheeks, this strong man, this soldier. And I felt such gratitude again.
We planted two new honeysuckle to climb the beams of the Roundhouse (Lonicera periclymenum) today, as across the other side of the burial ground a family interred the ashes of a loved one, a few others visiting graves to share thoughts and tears, and I crept into the car to warm my aching fingers. Tears in my eyes, I tried and failed to count the birds on the big seed feeder near the car park. Flying in and out so quickly, there must have been nearly 30, little coal tits and bluetits sneaking in, feathers puffed up in the cold air, sparrows with their elegant confidence, chaffinches hiding amidst the rose hips and sloes in the hedge, greenfinches bickering, even goldfinches, some looking for the last of the seeds in the teasel heads. Life – so much life!
It seems appropriate for the first posting on our blog to be on Remembrance Sunday. So much of what we do at Sun Rising is about just that : whether we are working on the development of the nature reserve, helping a family arrange a funeral or cope with bereavement, or just cleaning the notice boards, we are remembering, with love and with thanks, all those who have gone before us. In Binyon’s words … At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.