On Memorial Day —

It’s Memorial Day weekend, formerly called Decoration Day, because of the still-observed custom of decorating graves, especially of those who served in the armed forces, with flowers and American flags. Died in battle — or at any rate, once struggled in battle to preserve their nation — Still honored — Still remembered —

A holiday for remembering, then, a day of celebration —

Just what do we celebrate when we remember? And in what spirit do we celebrate? The mysteries of life, and death, of time passing? Not exactly a new question. Lu Yu, the Chinese poet of the 9th century, was already pondering it. I like his answer best of all, and so, on Memorial Day, I remember it:

The clouds above us join and separate. 

The breeze in the courtyard leaves and returns.

Life is like that, so why not relax? 

Who can stop us from celebrating?

Lu Yu

Joy, sorrow, birth, death, the panorama of life from morning until evening —

Who can stop us from celebrating? Only ourselves.

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This entry was posted in Etcetera, Life and Death, Memory, Poetry, Zen and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to On Memorial Day —

  1. 2e0mca says:

    It’s good to recall the sacrifices of others in the past but even more important to ensure that we protect the present freedoms that they earned by their sacrifice.

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Which turns out again and again to be no small task —
      Edward R. Murrow talked about his long broadcasting career, when he often felt like he was “being nibbled to death by ducks”.
      Those present freedoms, I think, are often being nibbled at and nibbled at — enough nibbles, and they will be gone —

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  2. cocomino says:

    What a nice sentence and sky. I would like to relax in the life.

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  3. Lu Yu had it right methinks.

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  4. Patti Kuche says:

    There is so much to celebrate in a day and a night but I really did think that as a child coming out of the Vietnam War era lessons might have been learned and war would become a thing of the past while memories of the brave would last forever, so that we wouldn’t have to fight for such freedoms again . . . . but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure whose or what freedom we are fighting for anymore!

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    • Touch2Touch says:

      Ah, Patti — The “war to end all wars” ended in 1918, then imploded in 1938. Then imagine living through WWII, when its full horrors were revealed after the war ended and evil on the grand scale was exposed to everyone’s sight — never to happen again! See evil clearly enough and it will end, we thought. Believed.
      But war will never be a thing of the past unless human nature changes in an unimaginable way. I think any school playground is evidence. I didn’t read Lord of the Flies because I already believed this and couldn’t bear to read more about it —

      The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, Thomas Jefferson said. It is. Dealing with the confusion you’re referring to, the mixed motives, the complications and complexities, makes vigilance an extremely difficult task.

      A great lady I knew, Madeleine L’Engle (who was nothing if not clear-sighted) said: “Of course all our motives are mixed! Our only pure motives are the bad ones.” If that’s true (and I do believe Madeleine was onto the truth here) then all we can do is our best, and keep doing it. And not succumb to despair. I often come close, but I’m old, and it doesn’t matter much to the world. But if you and your generation and your kind of brave souls succumb, it will matter a lot. So I wish you strength and clarity and “heart” (what the Japanese call “wa”). Our world rests on your shoulders.

      We should actually be celebrating you.

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  5. Patti Kuche says:

    🙂

    Judith, coming back later with more thoughtful and thorough comment than current heat allows! Plus, if I stop now to give it too much more thought the lump in my throat might give way . . .

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  6. A perfect way to explain it! I know people who are afraid to die. And I know people who spend their lives waiting to die because there is something better promised. I prefer to be in this day – this moment – and just…celebrate it.

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  7. What a thoughtful discussion. A powerful post. I am glad I found you, and look forward to following your blog.

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