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Sunday, April 3, 2011

If We Let HIM

Wilfred Owen was a British Officer and one of the most renown Poet's of The Great War(Often called World War I here in the United States). He was one of many young soldiers of that war that put their thoughts and feelings into poetry. Unfortunately, with just days left before the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 and the fighting came to an end at 11am on that morning...Owen was killed leading an attack against the Germans.

This morning in my post a used a line from one of my favorite poems: Spring Offensive by Owen. It was written about soldiers marching up to the front in preparation for a great attack, knowing their "feet had come to the end of the world'. In other words they most certainly would be facing death. They were Veterans, they knew the drill, when men attacked, they was that simple.

The poem goes on to describe the men leaping forward as the attack and my favorite line is :"Some say God caught them before they fell". Long before I became a Christian that line moved me almost to tears. I can just picture that...the ultimate sign of Mercy and Grace.

Men, human beings unfortunately are flawed and violence has become part of what we are. Men cause wars, men kill other I was always just moved by the thought of those thousands of dying boys, in those fields in Flanders so far from home, breathing their last and gently falling into the hands of God. I may have been a selfish, drunken addict but that image was too much for even me...

So I tend to use that line and it's image in my own life because I personally felt the Hand Of Grace fall on my shoulders during terrible and awful times...and sensed that somehow, some way...things would be OK. I really think that as a 12 year old boy, who had been through some traumatic, unspeakable horror...I was touched by this Grace and because of it, was able to continue to push on and not let that terrible, evil experience destroy me from within.

I was sheltered from the memory of it for years before I was finally at a point in my life where I could actually face it and begin the process of healing. I truly believe that is just one example of a time where God certainly caught me before I fell...and nurtured me back to a full and healthy life. And I was a God Hater at the time....go figure! Talk about unconditional love!

I enjoy sharing those little bits of information about such things and explaining why they mean so much to me. I'm startled sometimes about how sensitive i could actually be at times even in the throes of my addiction/alcoholism. It was those little learnings that taught me that I was not a bad person, no...I was a sick person who is most certainly flawed. And not only that I began to understand that I, as a person was salvageable, my life, my humanity and yes, even my soul could be saved.

That was simply astounding to me because I thought, I truly believed that I could NOT be saved. I was resigned to the fact that I was a GONER. That I would suffer my whole life and beyond...the idea that perhaps, just maybe I could be redeemed...well talk about a gigantic, freaking light-bulb going on. I seized on that notion like a drowning man clutches a thrown life-preserver. It was a life-changing realization and it has led me to the place where I am today...

So..."Some say God caught them before they fell". I say he catches us all, each and every day...if we just Let Him.


  1. "Some say God caught them before they fell." Would have been a comfort to read that line way back when.

    I used to have a book of poems that were written by soldiers during WWI... I read it a number of times and I very much would have liked to have kept it, but gave it to my bro as a gift one year. The way my memory works, I can't remember much now, but I was particularly fond of Julian Grenfell's "Into Battle". Last year I was re-introduced to Wilfred Owen and was drawn to "Strange Meeting". At some point I would like to revisit that collection of poems.

  2. I have always like Grenfell's "Into Battle" as well and Strange Meeting" is another Fav of mine. I have just always been drawn to Great War Poetry and my Grandmother is responsible...she always recited a poem before dinner and I discovered a collection of Great war works in her book case. She really encouraged it.

    I have long noticed that Americans no very little about the Great War. Fact is, American Soldiers only actively fought in the last 9 months of the war. Though causalities were severe, they were small compared to those of the English (and Dominions), French and the Germans.

    Canadians have a much different perspective and reverence towards the Great War because they lost the cream of that generation on the Western Front. In the States, most folks have no idea what happened in that war and how it impacted the war that followed (which everyone knows about).

  3. I have a thing for old books, so your Grandma's bookcase would have been a treasure trove to me.

    "Canadians have a much different perspective and reverence towards the Great War..." I couldn't agree more.

  4. SG- I've been to Vimy Ridge and the Canadian War Memorial there...just sunning.

    The gigantic pillars reaching to the sky. On the backside of the monument (facing the German Lines) there is Mother Canada looking down to the ground (perhaps a 100ft drop) as if weeping, on the ground is a tomb with a sword and Canadian Helmet on top...very moving as well.

    At Vimy, they have left the earth exactly as it was at the end of the war...for miles it's covered with shell holes (now covered in grass). They also preserved miles of tunnels in which the troops sheltered from German shell fire for weeks before going into action. I toured them, amazing.

    On the Somme Battlefield is of course Newfoundland Park with it's preserved trenches and shell holes in remembrance to what happened to those Lads on the hot 1st of July Day in 1916 when thousands were cut down with out gaining a single YARD.

    All around the Belgium town of Ypres are memorials to Canadians, at 1st Ypres the Germans used Poison Gas for the first time against (you guessed it, men from Canada).

    So I have seen first hand why Canada does not forget what happened in the Great War just like France, Like Germany, Like Britain and Australia plus many more. Those countries lost a whole generation of their men to the Death and Mud of the Western Front...terribly Sad....

  5. Thanks for the description of the Vimy Ridge Memorial. After I read that I was thinking how haunting it would be to be standing there while a lone piper plays. I know very little, but even with the limited knowledge that I do have, it does not take me much to fully grasp the enormity of things. Sadly it seems that the generation that follows cares to know nothing of it.

  6. SG-You're right about the younger in the States it seems like our education system teaches little to no history anymore. I don't believe most 15 year olds know what the Great War even was or when/where it was fought.

    I will say this though, when I went to France/Belgium to visit all the battlefields (twice actually) there were a lot of young people with their parents/grand parents and I think in Europe they still think about it mor.

    Also we met some awesome Canadian Students at Vimy and Newfoundland Park who were there working as part of their University Degree. They were great: smart, motivated, intelligent, committed and really fun/helpful. I guess they do 6-12 month "tours" at those National Monuments. Both of those places are officially Canadian Soil in France. Just like the cemeteries all are...really cool stuff.

    I took a ton of pics at Vimy but they were not digital and the X has them which is a real bummer. I've shown some of the pics from Newfoundland Park here on the blog.