In Flanders Fields, the Poppies Blow.
How many times have we heard that poem?
When I was in high school, I was part of a choir that every year would sing a haunting version of this poem that has since stuck with me. I wish that I could sing it to you through words alone, but I can’t.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row,
that mark our place; and in the sky
the larks still bravely singing, fly
scarce heard amid the guns below.
It is a strangely haunting poem. Poppies, growing up for me were always a mysterious flower that I only recognized by the pins so many of us dawn each November. But poppies grow everywhere in France; between cracks in the sidewalks and amidst soil that most other plans would die in.
I think that that’s the point of the poem. War is ugly. But beauty still manages to sneak through. Even amidst death, poppies manage to grow and larks still sing. To me it seems like such a juxtaposition.
We spent around a week in Northern France and had the privilege of visiting a number of WWI memorials including Flanders Fields and Vimy Ridge. They were beautiful places. Beautiful, with an ugly past.
One evening, a group of us visited a cemetery filled with tombs of men who died during WWI. Many of them were the same age as me. Many were younger—the youngest I found was 17.
And yet the cemetery was a strangely peaceful place. It reminded me that there is more to the story after these men died.
God still has the final say
And fortunately, he is much more merciful than man is to each other.
Despite something so ugly, beauty will sneak in between the cracks and grow.
Just like the poppies in Flanders Fields.