November 9, 2012 by talkaboutyork
‘For the fourth time, put your shoes on!’
‘Can you please go clean your teeth?’
‘No you cannot have a chocolate biscuit for breakfast and no you can’t take the football to school.’
‘No I don’t know where your tie is. And yes, your rugby kit is now dry and in your kitbag.’
This morning was the usual chaos in our house, worsened by the fact that the new kitchen was delivered yesterday but is not yet installed. Which means walking to the fridge to get the milk becomes a military assault course.
By the time we got to school, I was frazzled. The bell was ringing and then we realised that we’d left son 1’s guitar at home and he has a lesson today. Cue immediate meltdown until I promised to return home and deliver the guitar.
Then I charged over to son 2’s school, held about five abbreviated conversations with various people about their actions for the Christmas Activity Day coming up, deposited a clingy child and raced out, mentally dashing through my to do list for the day.
Get money for the kitchen guy; get parking permits for the builders; buy stuff for the Christmas shoebox appeal; buy a birthday present for the party son 1 is going o tomorrow; buy toothpaste!; return the library books etc.etc. etc.
Deep in thought I was surprised when someone said, ‘Are you going to the Remembrance Day service at school chapel now?’
I hadn’t remembered the Remembrance service. How ironic is that?
‘I can’t,’ I said. ‘Too much to do.’
I walked to the school gate and stopped. How could I not take half an hour out of my day to stop and remember all those who have died – and are still dying – in wars. Is getting a new pair of goggles to replace the pair my son lost more important? So I turned back and snuck into the chapel just as the service was about to begin.
There is something massively comforting about sitting in a church, listening to children singing and getting to sing those same hymns I sang at school. It rustles up old memories that would otherwise lie long forgotten.
I love singing hymns. I’m not good at singing, but I do love it. Yet when I sing or I listen to singing, it always makes me cry. The more beautiful and poignant the song, the more likely I am to cry. The more meaning there is behind it, the stronger the guarantee.
So the final hymn – Dear Lord and Father of Mankind – one of my all time favourite hymns was played. I got through three verses without issue. But it was these words that got me.
Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still small voice of calm!
And all of the madness of my morning and the stress of the last year and the reason for being in chapel and the song lyrics came to the fore and I started to cry. And once I started I couldn’t stop. This was no polite sniffle. This was big body-shaking sobs. The lovely lady next to me touched my arm to check if I was alright. The lady to my left handed me a tissue. I needed a box of them.
At the end of the service I walked out, trying to keep my swollen red eyes downcast. I made my way home in the cool autumnal breeze, crunching over fallen yellow and brown leaves.
I feel strangely relieved yet empty. I am glad I took a moment out of the busy-ness of life to reflect and remember. And I thank all those past and currently serving for their dedication to duty.
Speaking of duty, I’ve just had a call from the school. Son 1 fell over on the way back from chapel and has split his lip and I need to go see him. Life continues quickly enough. But there’s always time to stop it for a while to remember.