Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Meditation Moment

White Feather Horror

A picnic lunch on a warm, sunny day beside a river is a great way to spend a Saturday. I’ve just had a look at a small plaque however and the beauty of the day suddenly became marred. There, at the base of a giant Norfolk pine on the otherwise treeless area of land were the words of a grieving father for his son. The sixteen year old lad had been killed in the first world war of 1914 -18. What had saddened my day were the words indicating the underage boy had joined up because at least two unknown ‘friends’ had sent him white feathers, a sign of cowardice.
     The tree had been planted by his father in memory of his son. Now the breeze continues to play a sympathetic lament through its leaves as an unending requiem.
     Standing alone and silent before the plaque, I wondered at the folly of war and the stupidity of anonymous ‘friends’ with their insinuations. My heart asked a question which could not be answered. Did those who sent the feathers ever grieve over what they had done? Did they seek forgiveness?
     I know this tree will cast a shadow over my soul for weeks to come. Every time I drive past it I will remember the grief it silently honours and the unmentioned stories it hides. Standing here just before I leave, I acknowledge the bravery of that young man, and the millions he is part of. In so far as it’s within my power, may I protect the young people within my care from the ignorant and judgemental attitude symbolised in those white feathers.

I cannot help feeling, Heavenly Father, that you would have had a soft spot for the father of that boy. He planted a tree to honour his son. You have given to the world a ‘tree’ that honours your Son. The lad gave his life in the cause of freedom from earthly tyranny. Jesus gave His life to free us from eternal tyranny. You have given us more than a plaque. You have given us the Communion service to remind us of the death burial and resurrection of our hero and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Thank you once again, Ray, and I knew I should take a photo of that memorial tree one day for you.


  1. What a sad story Mary. I think that broke my heart a little too. Thanks for sharing it though. We are better people when our hearts have been tenderised with the same grief God feels too.
    Dorothy :)

  2. Yes, it is a sad story, but I suspect only one of many during about those wretched "white feathers" during that dreadul war. After posting the devotional, a local writer here in Tasmania told me more of the story behind that memorial so will share it in my next post to the blog.