A few thoughts on this holiday weekend:
1) On Memorial Day weekend we pray especially for those women and men who have given their lives in defense of our country from its very beginning. This holiday calls us to grateful memory of their sacrifice and to prayer for their eternal rest. And, we are deeply aware that our prayers go out to those who died as recently as yesterday, as the death toll in Iraq continues to mount.
As so often happens with all of us, I find that my prayer for those who have already died folds over in prayer for the protection of all combatants in Iraq and certainly for Iraqi civilians who daily lose their lives in the brutal conflict.
I am deeply sorry that we are engaged in this military conflict and pray every day that the achievement of peace will return all combatants safely to their homes, stabilize that ravaged nation and allow the Iraqi people to live normal lives once again.
2) Most of us also pray for all of our departed loved ones on this pre-summer weekend of rest. Visits to the graves of parents, grandparents, children, other relatives and friends are a part of the ritual of many families.
I won’t get to family gravesites these days, but I will be remembering my mother and dad in my prayer. I told you in an “Along the Way” not long ago about how such prayer for my parents has evolved from prayer for them, to prayer to them, to affectionate conversation in the context of prayer.
It was quite surprising to me that several people wrote in response to that brief reflection. No two letters were quite the same, but their common note was that the correspondent appreciated that someone wanted to fill up after their death what was missing in his relationship with his parents while the parents were still living.
Some mentioned that the reflection encouraged them to pray for a healing of their relationships with deceased parents. Several identified with the value of saying in prayer to a departed loved one what they wished they had said when the individual was still alive. Others were happy to express their regrets for words said or things done that they wished were not a part of their history.
3) As I revisit this theme with you, I am drawn to the awareness that, if it is salutary and healing to embrace the deceased in prayer in this way, it would be no less beneficial to embrace the living in similar fashion — especially those with whom things are not quite as they should be.
To be honest, I am not particularly excited about that prospect. It reminds me that I need to take initiatives to bring healing and greater peace to some relationships, to fill up what is missing in others. There is some hard work involved in that. One who engages in it is vulnerable and subject to misunderstanding and rejection.
But part of my prayer this weekend will be for the grace to take such initiatives where they are needed. Right relationships are the source of abiding happiness. And such is the Lord’s will for us.
I hope that you have a blessed and restful weekend.
Peace to all.