A Memorial Day reflection
There's a gold star flag in the front window of a house down the street. I'm often tempted to stop in and meet the residents, to let them know that I see them, that I acknowledge their loss, but I'm never quite sure if thanks or apologies are in order, so I simply walk by. I'm ashamed, in fact, of how easy it is to walk by.
When I was overseeing an Army funeral detail years ago, the ceremony script was a merciful crutch for me, since I could never stumble through condolences or say the wrong thing to the family. But it all seemed wrong to me, every last piece of it. The weight of the ceremonial flag defied physics: That thin fabric, when folded against itself, grew so heavy. What widow could carry such weight?
Even the words on behalf of a grateful nation didn't ring true, then or now. We are a nation of people tending to the day-to-day, fretting over the various concerns of the living. It's all as it must be. I don't fault anyone for seeking out an easy conscience.
But on days like today, we are compelled to stop and peer into that neighbor's window, wondering at the grief inside. And when the weight of that grief becomes unbearable, we can only pray for forgiveness as we shift our gaze and walk by.