Tuesday, June 28, 2016


A meditation for those wishing to take part in a commemoration of the Battle of the Somme 30th June - 1st July 1916-2016
Start by seeing yourself/selves at the outer gate of an ancient abbey. Beyond its frame of ornate ironwork a wide stone paved path leads to the porch of its north door, flanked on either side by mature yew trees. Enter upon that path and as you make your way between the trees be aware of the presence of any Masters of the Western Tradition known to you; they are always here, ready to provide advice, encouragement and assistance to any who come here seeking to give service. Entering the abbey porch approach the guardian at the inner door and give your mystery name to him. He salutes each of you in turn as you pass into the abbey.
As your eyes grow accustomed to the low light inside your attention is drawn to a large white tablet set into the wall in the south side of the building, directly opposite where  you are standing. Make your way over to it, crossing the nave and passing the great baptismal font, and as you draw nearer you see that the vast white tablet is a war memorial, and engraved over its entire surface countless names, of those slain in the Great War. This elegant roll call is so enormous that it is only possible to read a tiny proportion of the names at one time, and most of them are unfamiliar to you, although you may see a few that you recognise. Underneath the tablet is a marble shelf, thickly strewn with poppies, and to one side is a rough wooden cross, salvaged from a soldier's makeshift grave on the battlefield. Although this memorial is ostensibly dedicated to those who fell in the Great War, it is implicitly honouring the victims of all wars. Stand before it for a moment, respectfully contemplating all that it represents.
Then become aware of a figure standing nearby looking up at the marble tablet. He is a short, dark haired young man wearing the uniform of an officer of the First World War. As if sensing your presence he turns round with a shy smile and you recognise him to be the poet Wilfred Owen. It is now his duty and honour to guard the entrance to the Chapel of Remembrance, where he stands as an archetype of the pity of war, and serves as a guide.
He indicates a dark alcove to the right of the war memorial, and you see that it is a small doorway sealed off by a crimson curtain. This is the entrance to the Chapel of Remembrance and he invites you to enter. When you agree to do so he draws the curtain aside and you pass through the little doorway to take your place within, amongst the inner company of the Light of the Somme.
The rest is up to you and to your vision.

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