The War in Afghanistan and Mother’s Day Combine to Make a Holy Day

Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, as the light of a new day was still meandering down our street, my across the way neighbor walked out to the curb to pick up his newspaper. He stood for a long time staring up and down the street, holding his paper, a look of satisfaction smoothing his creased face. I followed his gaze.

American flags, on thin steel poles, about ten feet tall, lined my side of the road. He watched the flags catch the wind. I could see the pride swell in him as the flags fluttered.

After a time, he turned on his heel and stepped over the purple flowers draping the sidewalk and started back to his house. But he stopped, turned, and looked to his right at the three small stars and stripes he had decorating his garden. Bending down he pulled the middle flag up, adjusted it, and stuck it back in the ground. Then he stood facing the three flags, erect, heels together as if on a parade ground, as if he wanted to salute, but couldn’t. Maybe because he’s retired Air Force and was not in uniform. He and time stood still. Finally satisfied, he trooped back up to his front door.

The night before, a family in our neighborhood had welcomed home their son from the war in Afghanistan and had asked permission to plant flags along our street. I don’t know the family, though I’m very happy for them. And on Mother’s day weekend! They–along with me and my neighbor–will remember this holiday for a long time.

Soon my neighbor’s door closed behind him and I returned to brewing my coffee.

Why Celebrate?

Humans celebrate special events. We mark birthdays, rites of passage, anniversaries, raises, graduations, and important memories. Our lives revolve around rhythms: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Passover, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, July 4, Father’s Day (hint, hint), and more. If we can’t find a reason to celebrate we make one up.

Animals don’t do this. At least not the ones I’ve known. My sweet dog wagged her entire body, tail first, the same way every time I returned home whether I’d been gone ten minutes or ten days.

We Need Holidays

Perhaps we need holidays because we habituate to the remarkable. “Ho hum,” people living in Vail eventually say to a mountain scape. God paints a new, unique, glorious sunrise every morning and we need a Sunrise Service to make it special. Everyday is a gift but we need birthdays to remind us.

Without a rhythm of feasts and festivals and parties throughout the year we may have to resort to the techniques advertisers use on us shouting, “New and Improved,” “Free,” “Epic television” just to get us to pay attention to our own lives. Or not.

Skeptics ask, “Why celebrate mothers only one day a year?” Yes, we should be grateful for mothers and fathers (hint, hint), and sunrises and our faith and marriages and children and each other every day. But to set a day aside and mark it out for a special celebration elevates the person or issue or idea above all others, if only for that day.

Everyday Can’t Be Holy

This is what the word “holy” originally meant: “special or set apart.” Thus a holiday is a holy day, or season set apart for special recognition. Despite what Garrison Keillor says, we can’t all be above average.

Most of the twenty or so flags are still standing along my street. They are beautiful still; but now when I’m in a hurry to get to an appointment, I can’t drive slowly admiring them and praying for the family whose son returned.

And I have since seen my across the street neighbor once again retrieve his paper. This time he picked it up and went straight back in. Perhaps his coffee and eggs would burn if he lingered. Or perhaps we both had that one holy moment and that was enough. We simply need to be prepared for the next one.

Eugene C. Scott fancies himself a writer so believes he has poetic license to watch people and write stuff about them. He is also attempting to write about what it’s like to live spiritually for a year.  You can join the Living Spiritually community by following this blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The War in Afghanistan and Mother’s Day Combine to Make a Holy Day

  1. Georgie-ann

    ” … fancies himself a writer so believes he has poetic license to watch people and write stuff about them.”

    & … you’re in good company, Oogene!

    “All the world’s a stage” is the phrase that begins a monologue from Shakespeare’s As You Like It … . (Googled info)

    James 4:14
    “Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air].”

    Better to be “observing & inspired” by life’s all-too-transient moments, — (even making them intentionally MORE special!) — than to be asleep, in a trance, or “in denial” and avoidance through it all,… waking up much later and wondering “what just happened??” or “what was THAT all about??” or “what have I missed??”

    I and my neighbor are one, sharing the day’s light and breath and meaning, transient though it may be. Our connection may be wordless, or passing, but we ARE connected nonetheless,… sharing our enacted roles,… our proffered observable stances,… actually giving strength to one another as we live and walk faithfully, grace-full-ly, truthfully in the Light of God,… living outwardly our “inner truth”,…

    Let us walk before each other in ways that lift up and ennoble God’s Creation, Life, Meaning and Purposes,… We ARE perpetual “ambassadors for Christ”,… grateful receivers and living testimonies of God’s Grace and Goodness,… ARE we leaving around “enough observable evidence” of this to convict us, if brought to trial on the Lord’s account?,… & not only Oogene, but God may also be watching!,… & He probably IS!! (hint hint)

    I heard Pride and Love and Dignity, Concern and Identification, in your story, for this “observed” neighbor and the ones only “seen” by their flags,… Our Story IS Everyman’s Story,… We are not SO unique and/or “special” — (or isolated by our supposed peculiar identifying qualities) — that we can lose our common meaning and shared purposes and potentials in living,… which are also ours to “make the most of” everyday,…

    We know repetition numbs us,… dulls us,… how do we keep things new?,… surely not by going to sleep!

    We are now in the delightful birdsong season of the nesting birds,… every morning moment is a unique aural surprise,… The occasional sudden silences — hanging in the air as if just waiting in anticipation — become very “full”, pregnant, noticeable and awesome, as they are sporadically interspersed with the raucous chirpy-melodic, enthusiastically tweeted, spontaneous bird-joy concert event,… I am lifted, enlivened, strengthened, fed,…

    God gave us our senses to experience all that life has to offer, and our hearts and minds to fully “process” the deeper meanings,… We shouldn’t fear to use them properly!,… and maybe we should fear not to use them properly,…

    Job 7:7 “Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath, … ”

    Psalm 39:5 “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Selah”

    Psalm 78:39 “He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.”

    Psalm 102:3 “For my days vanish like smoke, … ”

    Psalm 144:4 “Man is like a breath, … ”

    Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

    Isaiah 2:22 “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?”

    ” … fancies himself a writer so believes he has poetic license to watch people and write stuff about them.”

    sounds pretty good to me, Eugene,… & at least it’s real!

    • Georgie-ann: I’m nothing if not real.

      • Georgie-ann

        Being who we are, real and connected, with love and respect, we strive to touch the deepest meanings and realities,… To “shrink” from noticing or being concerned about others, leads us also to “hide” ourselves, and even to hide FROM ourselves,… We act like “the World is too much with us” (William Wordsworth) — (not saying it isn’t, in many cases!) — and we should studiously learn to practice avoidance, “privacy”, shunning, not noticing, and definitely substitute “how to pretend”,… … … I say, “No, no, nooooo!”,…

        “Trust” involves not only trusting God, but also finding the real, loveable, trustable “me” inside,… & if “I” exist in this sense, then so do others,… Carefully revealing and exposing and expressing “ourselves” in these (to begin with: “sensitive”) ways, is a very good/laudable spiritual “effort”,… I can still remember my first sensitive “baby steps” in this regard,… & little did I know what human “land mines” surrounded me at the time!,…

        Despite all sorts of internal & external obstacles, I can report a successful journey from “more fake and less real” to “less fake and more real”,… and I do feel all the better for it!,… What do people circumspectly hide from?,… that they shouldn’t be observed?,… we’re actually all “pretty obvious”!,… aren’t we?,… (& we could be “having a lot more fun”,… enjoying life more,… together, even!),…

        I guess your wife, DeeDee, is the really blessed one in this regard: teaching Kindergarten!!,… Oh my!, now there’s a lot of uninhibited Reality for you, too! (-:

        Luke 18:16 “But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.'”

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