Sunday, 29 May 2016

Memorial Day, my Mum, and Reconciliation.

In my sermon today at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, Sarasota, FL I spoke of the time in 1994 when my brother Martyn and his wife Wendy  joined me in taking our Mum to the British and Commonwealth Cemetery in Bayeux, France.

There we stood at the grave of Mum's brother Albert,  who was killed in action in Normandy in August 1944.

Fifty years and one month later dear Mum was able to see her dear brother's grave.  It was a deeply moving moment.

Martyn and I were at first surprised to see that there were also the graves of German soldiers in a corner of the Cemetery.

Then we agreed that grief is grief, and that it mattered not that young Germans were buried alongside young Britons.

Those young Germans also had Mums, Dads, brothers and sisters who grieved for their premature deaths.

I told this story in my sermon.   But I had forgotten an even more telling event.

I cannot remember the exact year
, but it was sometime between 1972 and 1976.   I was driving on the M5 motorway between Birmingham and Bristol in the U.K.

I gave a lift to two young German youths who were hitch-hiking -  they were heading towards England's south coast.

I stopped at a Service area near Worcester, and called Mum.  "Could we", I asked, "offer these two  hitchers a bed for the night?"

Mum said "yes".

She fed these youngsters some dinner, and they slept on the floor in our "middle room"

.The next morning she made  them a "full English" breakfast, after which I drove them to the south west side of the City of Bath, and left them at a place where they were well placed to hitch a ride to Salisbury, or Portsmouth, or Southampton.

When I got back home my good Mum took me to one side,   She told me that after the horrors and deprivations of WW II she could scarcely bear to hear the German language,or even a German accent.

Then she thanked me for bringing these two young Germans into our home.  Their visit had helped her to overcome her fears, and to move from anger and blame into reconciliation.

I HAD A GOOD MUM!





Forty or more years on I wonder if those two German men, now in their late fifties or early sixties remember the time when they slept on the floor in a working class home in Bristol, and that a gracious English woman (my Mum), gave them dinner and breakfast.

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