Thursday, August 09, 2007

In Flanders Fields

What with Sunday’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” I seemed to have stumbled into my military issue(s).
It brought to mind something I wrote a few weeks ago, but that I held back not wanting to expose others to some of the darkness that I carry.
But – again, it may be useful, and you might even like it…

I had dinner with a friend last week.
She’d gone to a psychic for a reading. Her presenting question was a rather perennial one for her, “Shall I go or should I stay, and if I go, what will I do?”
(Yes, that’s really two questions, if not three. But, that’s how the mind does anxiety.)

She was thinking of her marriage.
And of course the psychic didn’t give a clear cut answer.
Instead, the reading addressed the original intention of my friend’s soul,
her intention for this incarnation,
and how my friend was now feeling the pressure of living up to that.

So, I asked her how was she feeling in regards to her soul?
At first, she didn’t understand. So I elaborated.
Have you followed through?
Do you feel you’ve let it down?
The more I tried to explain, the less I seemed to strike just the question I intended.

Then suddenly, a line of poetry sprang from memory:
“If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep…”

It had been years since I’d thought of the poem, “In Flanders Fields.”
And, I couldn’t recite it all just out for her right then.
Still, there was that line so clear.

I had learned it when I was twelve,
assigned to read a poem of my own choosing to the class.
I’d searched for something short, yet, something that I liked.
When I found “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae, I was totally transported.

I would come back to it for years.
Stare and stare at McCrae’s photo (shown here),
then recite the words like some sacred chant.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place;
and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.

Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It seemed ineffable mystery to me.

All I knew were the dates of McCrae’s life.
He had not survived the War.

I’d look at this poet’s face, study the belt of his uniform,
every detail I could make out, and know that soon
he was a dead man.

Then I would read the poem again.
Yes – kind of strange behavior for a twelve year old girl.
Even then, I knew it strange.
But that was all part of the mystery.
The pull. What was this?

So, forty-five years later, I am sitting in a restaurant eating Pud Thai, asking my friend how she feels regarding her soul – and these words spring into my head with such urgency…

“If ye break faith with us who die”

That was the heart of the matter: keeping faith,
keeping faith with our souls.
Such an obligation.
Such honor and courage are required.
Not to others, but to our selves.

This is me soldiering.

You and your soul had a deal.
The soul’s heavenly job was to learn, and plan, and finally incarnate.
And it has kept its side of the bargain.

It came to earth.
(and from Spirit’s point of view incarnating is a death
just as surely as the Body’s drawing last breath is a dying.)

And now, as Body, it falls to “You”
to keep your side of the deal.

… the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep
though poppies grow…

It’s up to you.
The soul can only whisper now
and try to keep you honest.

So my friend, How are you doing with your soul?

…And have you noticed that throughout this discussion,
You don’t seem to be even the same thing as your Soul?

That’s got to call you deeper.