18 Forget me not

“I didn’t choose to die at eighteen years
My time was chosen for me
Not for me some grandiose battle plan fought out o’er foreign fields.
I did not go to war
Nor to defend some great ideal …
I just went to work in a bitter urban landscape.”
Shane Laverty

It’s safe to say that I’m a person in a place of change. Northern Ireland has experienced 20 years of a politically brokered peace now but we have no working government. And my sense is there is still a spiritual, social and emotional apartheid.

Deep and bloody wounds are being nursed by families who lost loved ones during the “Troubles.” Whilst we don’t want to live in the past, many families still want justice and closure for the murder of their loved ones. Our history is complex.  This is a collective journey. How can we work together to best remember and honor the victims of the troubles? I still recognize a vast deficiency in therapeutic and trauma related services.

I ask myself;

Is there a lethargy towards the call to reconciliation amongst Church and political leaders. Are they wary?

Have we created enough space for true feelings, constructive dialogue and lament to surface?

Is the gospel a medicine that can heal our broken and wounded country?

Truly dealing with the legacy of the past, forgiveness and reconciliation may be an uphill battle. Allowing raw feelings to surface is messy but anything in life worth doing is going to be difficult.

My last 12 years in the US has created an opening within me.  How? The great diversity, and oftentimes, a love and grace based style of communication has helped.  I’ve listened to unbelievable stories of heroism and trauma since returning to Northern Ireland. One such story came in the form of a healing poem written by my friend Shane Laverty. Shane’s 18 year old brother Robert was shot by the IRA as he was traveling along the Antrim Road in a police vehicle in July 1972. He was a passenger in the vehicle when 2 gunmen opened fire from Willow bank Gardens and hit him in the head. A police witness said the timing mechanism in a lamp standard had been turned back to turn off the light in the area. Robert was in the Royal Ulster Constabulary for only 8 months. The RUC was the police force in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 2001. Here’s Shane’s poem and tribute to his fallen brother;

Forget Me Not

Forget me not
I didn’t choose to die at eighteen years
My time was chosen for me
Not for me some grandiose battle plan fought out o’er foreign fields.
I did not go to war
Nor to defend some great ideal …
I just went to work in a bitter urban landscape.

There were many good people …
But the cowards sought me out
Lurking in the darkness they carried out their poor misguided act,
Another piece in the endgame jigsaw, or so they thought .

“Ourselves alone” this puzzle will never be complete,
For there are no straight edges
And over three thousand pieces are missing.

Forget me not.
My hour of darkness came in a blinding flash.
Was there time for pain or perhaps a solitary tear?
No time for last goodbyes.
Where is my mother’s hand?
My brothers loving eyes?
My sisters caring smile?

Remember me.
For I cannot pass this way again and memories are all you can have.
Unlike those who put me here
Was it I who broke the law or they?
Yet they live to fight another day.

Don’t grieve for me.
For at the outset my time was chosen
But not by the “brave men” of darkness who shot and ran,
By the Creator of all men, before whom all men unjustified
Will stand in final judgement.
Until That Day Forget Me Not
Remember My sacrifice

Published by Jeanette Dean

I'm a life long learner. I've been on a voyage of discovery since childhood so ask why a lot. I'm Irish and a bit American. I write because its freeing and healing. I love photography, theology, the natural beauty of Ireland and swimming in the sea year round. I see the world through the lens of Celtic Christianity but can try on other perspectives. The business of everyday spirituality has always fascinated me. I hope this blog challenges, inspires and encourages you. Perhaps you'd like to work with me. Please reach out to me if that's the case. I'd love to hear from YOU so please comment and let me know you are out there!

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