It seems that for nearly fifty years I have worn the small poppy token to show respect for those who died while serving in the last centuries' wars which have protected our Democratic freedoms.Until I checked the net, I did not know why the poppy had been selected for our departed soldiers and nurses, except to endlessly weep over the shivery poem,"In Flanders Fields" by John Mc Crae.
I believed that the sight of those neat, white crosses all marking the death of Christian young people moved the poet to symbolize their spilt blood as the red, red poppies which naturally grew in the fields where they had been laid to rest.
I thought I would research Remembrance Day a bit, and found a reference to the reason for the universal symbol of the poppy. In a page on Remembrance Poppies on the Wikipedia website I found the actual reference regarding that lovely flower. After World War Two had been and gone, many land areas in France had been reduced to rubble. The debris caused vastly improved lime content in the earth, and many poppies arose, invigorated and nourished by the soil the disruption had provided.
Poppy Image Vault,Eric Clausen 2001 copyright Erowid.org
They are soft-blown silk, a reminder that our young daughters and sons are that same, fleeting, pure love as they approach a quixotic world with hearts and minds focussed on ideals and upon the heaven we have mutually tried to build for them. They are fresh - preppy. They are educated. They are strict. They are prepared. They are hopeful. They are strong. How can they be wrong?
Each of the educated,
prepared service people who serve us during wartime must
have the courage to face death, unfair and appalling
conditions, outstanding noise and pollution, and
loneliness, as regular family people separate for months
from their loved ones.
Though I do not believe that young people
should accept, or be taught the idea of actually dying for our freedoms, I truly respect that
the Military Intelligence which shapes our forces has prepared to
make the least trouble and to provide the most benefit, under the
circumstances, to not just each side, but to the world.
The Military type reminds me in some ways of a Tibetan Buddhist saint called "Milarepa". For a lesson in life the Great One asked Milarepa to build a temple to the glory of the Buddha. It was destroyed forthwith. He went on, in faith, to build six more temples, each one destroyed and torn down. He was meant to see the futility of earthly ways and clinging to material. It is no small wonder that his wife annotated and left to the world the incredible "Tibetan Book of the Dead", a book of formal death yoga which serves to guide those approaching death or those in mourning so that the spirit has a planned chance at a better lifetime in the next incarnation.
Islam ,too, has a beautiful work called "The White Peacock - The Islamic Book of the Dead". In this, the spirit is taught to find certain beautific images along the path towards the higher world.
In Judaism there are many works by individuals and collections of experiences and meditations upon the death experience. I have a simple one- "Jewish Reflections on Death" by Jack Riemer, with a foreword by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (Schocken Books, New York City 10016)
There are many books on
the subject of death, but no formal or popularized
reference it seems, to an approach to the afterworld.
Christians seem to refer to the last word on death by
Christ, in The New Testament of the Holy Bible, because
of the overwhelming success meditation on resurrection
has had in medicine over the last two thousand years.
Our paths are very much like the great life of Milarepa - they are often seen to fail, to be utterly destroyed; especially when one or even all of our children have gone to war to die - for what madness it seems, to we regular, grieving parents. Our offspring are our temples to the Greatness of The One,as also are our Democratic leaps into further human understanding. Rubble in New York is evidence of the fleetingness and fragility of those mighty towers built to glorify and house the wealth of our knowledge and expertise. Everything rises and falls, to pass away. But from the Greatness of Faith the poppies grow, silk-blown, to whisper of that greatest sign of Faith, new life and those new fields in which arising life will shine and love anew.
Thank you to the people serving we shy violets in such ways that our sense of freedom is certain.