Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A sober weekend

Over Remembrance weekend I read for the first time All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque. My oldest son gave me the book a little while ago but I had never given it attention.  It is a tough read.  A group of German soldiers who go to the trenches in the First World War experience the gamut of horrific experiences as seen through the eyes of a sensitive nineteen year old Paul Baumer. So much is incredibly sad as his company of 150 soldiers is reduced to 32 in an early battle.  You long for him and his particular friends somehow to survive when so many others are perishing but in the end they all die.  The story came out of the author's own experiences on the front line - its vividness, horror and disillusionment all ring terribly true.

Reading this made a difference as Carol and I saw the British Legion Festival of Remembrance and shared in other remembrance events of the weekend. Several parts of the book particularly made me stop and think.  As when Paul Baumer describes a short home leave in the midst of the horror when he tries to come to terms with life back home. Now he sees what matters in life so differently from people back home.
They just talk too much. they have problems, goals, desires that I can't see in the same way as they do. Sometimes I sit with one of them in the little garden of the pub and try to get the point across that this is everything - just sitting in the quiet.  Of course they understand, they agree, they think the same way, but it's only talk...they do feel it, but always only with half of their being, a part of them is always thinking of something else . They are so fragmented, no one feels it with his whole life.

Feeling life with our whole life.
 Facing life changing realities should make a profound difference to how we live.  Central to Christian faith is the sacrifice of Christ which confronts us with the horror of sin and his gift of new life, the possibility of moving from death to life. And that should certainly make a difference to the way we feel life with all our being!

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