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Adele is dead

13 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

How eagerly those early disciples listened to Jesus, seeing in him something different, something that lifted them from the ordinary, from an existence as predictable as it was unfulfilling, an existence where the cruelty of violence, the politics of violent men, the iron fist of an occupying army was always just over the next hill. They followed him in the hope of following someone who would change all this, make it alright, shift the scales of injustice, pick the world up and shake it.

He was someone who said it as it was, called out the crooked and the corrupt, challenged the pompous self-righteousness of the institutions of power. Here he was the son of man, the son of God, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the Prince of Peace…

And in this Prince of Peace they discovered someone who in the midst of pain, spoke of healing, in the midst of poverty blessing, and in the midst of violence peace. Yet this was not a peace such as the world knew, this was a peace of the human soul, a peace that accepts that wars and rumours of wars will always abound, but a peace that makes clear that even those caught up in violence, whether on the streets of our towns and cities, on the battleground of our conflicts or in the raging of our own internal tempests there is hope. And it is in the place of hope that we remember today, ………………………….

I just remember my Grandfather, a big man with a bald head and a collection of lead toys. He died when I was only three, he was 18 on March 8th 1918, joining the Royal Flying Corp on March 9th 1917 one year before he should, he joined up to be nearer to his fiancée, Adele, who was nursing in one of the front line hospitals, my grandfather wrote:

8am July 21st 1918

Adele is dead; an unexpected ending;

Kill’d, in an air raid by those stinking Huns.

While in a hostel, wounded she was tending.

Damn all Germans and their blasted guns!

Can I avenge her in this little scout?

Can I send Jerry in a blazing rout?

I only know while I’ve the chance to fly

I’ll spend my days in many a good try!

Yet could my grief be reckoned any less

If, from some German home, I steal the happiness?

12:30pm July 21st 1918 Third poem

Adele despite extreme youth at the start

I loved you dear with all my stricken heart

In days like these – in war – what chance to live has youth?

My sweet Adele I loved you with all the force of truth.

Sweet Adele 7pm July 21st 1918

My sweet Adele, why were born into a world like this?

To meet? To find out love? To know a lingering kiss?

Never to hear your soft sweet voice again; I shudder!

Why were we born dear you and I? – As canon fodder!

So sweet Adele, farewell. The war’s got you not me,

A trick of Kismet that he’d play with glee!

Yet ‘tis small use for me to rail at fate

Sweet rest, Adele within the golden gate.

11:45pm July 21st 1918

I think I’ve aged ten years in this one night,

I have grown up. Only to meet the blight

Of all my youthful, idealistic hopes

Eighteen! I have no knowledge of the slopes

Which lead to death; it’s grim finality

Was legend’ry; but now reality

Has crushed my spirit; altered all my life

Too soon. Must humans thrive on blood and strife?

There is no such person as one who survives war unwounded, whether service woman, service man or civilian, the experiences shape who you are, who you will become, the way you view the world and the way the world sees you.

Yet in remembering we are treading the path to peace, for this day is not about militarism, those who serve are the first to tell us that there is nothing glorious in war, yet there is much glorious in people. And our remembering is about that glory, about holding the woundedness of whole generations before the King of Glory who placed his likeness in each of us, who sacrificed his life that such a likeness would flourish, and offered to those who followed him perfect peace, for it was never dependant on the realities of the world, but always rooted in the realities of that great kingdom of love.

My Grandfather proceeded to add a verse to his poem each year on the date of Adele’s death, remembering and slowly treading a path to a place of his own recovery and when, in 1938, twenty years later he finally married my granny he wrote:

And now all those dear qualities which Adele possessed and always upheld, I have found growing again, with all their inexpressible freshness, in my wife and to her I owe a debt which can never be adequately repaid, because, at long last, she has brought me the greatest happiness and contentment I have ever known. In the certain knowledge that Adele is glad at my peace.

“Adele is glad at my peace.”

The journey had been long, but finally he found a peace of sorts, a peace that laid the past down, a peace that looked to the future, and perhaps as we remember today the greatest honour we can do the fallen, the wounded, the hurting, and the distraught, is to look forward to a peace filled future as like the disciples we follow the one who calls us on a path of remembering the way of all peace.

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