Monday, May 07, 2007

A Wall of Remembrance

Speaking of Gracia Burnham who was the lone survivor after the Philippine army, in attempting to rescue her, her husband and a Filipina nurse, Mark Bowden says:

“The raid had been characterized by many in the press as a debacle, but Gracia lived up to her name. She thanked the Philippine people for their prayers, and she thanked the government for her rescue. She talked about how much her husband had loved the country.”
(Mark Bowden, “Jidahasts in Paradise” The Altlantic Monthly, March 2007).

I picture Hebrews 11 as a long wall dedicated to memory. Perhaps the first was the
Vietnam Memorial, quiet and long in its display of names. But since then we have seen walls of remembrance spring up after catastrophic events. Pictures, notes, letters, are pinned to them. I see Hebrews eleven as somewhat like that and pinned to it are the names of all the people of faith. The writer walks up and snatches off a piece of paper with a name on it – Able, turns to us and says a few words, perhaps reading from the note itself. And then, Abraham, and Sarah, and after them he begins to walk along the wall and read various names, almost randomly, adding here and there a comment. And there are more he says – too many to read all of them, but they are there. And from the time he wrote the epistle until now the wall has continued to fill up. Patrick, who brought Christ to the Irish, and Luther, and yes, a village pastor who preached even though it seemed no one cared, and a mother who prayed without ceasing for her daughter. On and on it goes. Gracia Burnham who endured unspeakable agony, only to see her husband and friend die in the end. And now three brothers in Turkey who were faithful to the end. Is there a piece of paper up there with my name on it? What does it say?