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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Lest We Forget…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

My Grandma Allen (we called her Nana) was one of the most loving people that I have ever known.  I often wondered as a young person what made her so faithful and caring.  Years later, I discovered that her strong faith developed through great trial and adversity in her life.  Her mother died while giving birth and her father gave the children away to the neighbours and went back to sea.  Two of her brothers Charlie and Harry both went off to war in World War 1 and never came back.

On November 19th, 1917 a caring chaplain wrote my Nana the following note:  “Dear Miss Williams, I dare say you have heard the sad news of the death of your brother Private H.C.W. Williams who was killed in action on the morning of November 6th.  He did not suffer as death was instantaneous.”

“No doubt you will feel the loss of your dear brother very much as it is hard to part with those we love; but it is a consolation to know he did his duty faithfully and died in a righteous cause.  He gave his life for others.  And ‘greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’”

“I pray that God will comfort you in your sad bereavement and may you find his grace sufficient in your hour of need.  Cast your cares on the Lord and he shall sustain you.  With Deepest Sympathy, Yours sincerely, Alex Ketterson Chaplain 29th Canadians, B.E.F.”

Ketterson was a tremendous comfort to my Nana, because he understood the great sacrifice that her brothers Charlie and Harry made for the cause of freedom.  Chaplain Alex Ketterson knew that the mystery of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross can help us make sense of the senselessness of life.

For more than forty years, I have worn a poppy each November 11th.  It helps me remember and reflect on the great sacrifices by so many that we might be free.  It is so easy to take freedom and security for granted.  Freedom and democracy are a precious gift from God that must never be treated lightly.  I wear a poppy ‘lest I forget’.

How did the poppy become connected with Nov 11th anyways? A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were infertile before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the conflict ceased.

During the massive  military barrage of World War One, the chalk soils became loaded with lime from debris, allowing ‘popaver rhoeas’ (poppies) to blossom. When the war ended the lime was quickly absorbed, and the poppy began to disappear again.

During World War One, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, of Guelph Ontario, heroically served as brigade-surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Forces Artillery.  With the introduction by the enemy of poison gas, John McCrae worked night and day for seventeen days straight, not even stopping to change his clothes. At times the dead and wounded actually rolled down the bank from above his Yser Canal dugout. McCrae wrote home “We are weary in body and wearier in mind. The general impression in my mind is one of a nightmare”.

The day before John McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields”, one of his closest friends was tragically killed and buried in a grave decorated with only a simple wooden cross.  Wild poppies were already flourishing between the crosses that marked those silent graves.  In Flanders Fields” was first published in December, 1915 in England’s “Punch” magazine.  Within months, “In Flanders Fields” became the most popular poem about the First World War.  Translated in several languages, it was used in a 1917 Canadian campaign to help with the war effort, an effort which remarkably raised over 400 million dollars.

Three years later a New York City YMCA worker, Moina Michael decided to begin wearing a poppy in memory of the millions who died on the battlefield.  Thanks to a 1920 visit to New York, Madame Guerin of France learned of the New York City poppy.  The poppy symbol so inspired her that upon returning to France, she made handmade poppies to raise money for French children made destitute by World War 1.  From there, the poppies spread like wildfire around the world.

“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.”

Why do 13 million Canadians wear a poppy on November 11th?  We wear the poppy, lest we forget.  My prayer is that we may overcome our collective amnesia and remember afresh the sacrifices of so many who gave their lives that we might live.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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Thank God for the Red Cross!

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

As New York and Washington reeled in 2001 from 9/11, the Red Cross  flew into action, saving lives and bringing hope.  Thank God for the Red Cross who time and again make a difference in times of great tragedy.

Great organizations invariably are birthed from great people.  The Red Cross was birthed from the vision and drive of Jean Henri Dunant, who received the world’s first Nobel Peace Prize.  Dunant was a Swiss businessman who ‘happened’ to be on hand to see the carnage and horror of the battle of Solferino, Italy, in 1858.  Forty thousand wounded lay in their death throes under a blazing sun, in suffocating heat, helpless and unattended.  Amid the anguished cries of the wounded, in an atmosphere of panic and confusion, he gathered together a team of volunteers to relieve the ‘inexpressible sufferings’ of war.

Four days after the battle, Dunant discovered five hundred wounded who had been overlooked.  Dunant commented: “I succeeded in getting together a certain number of women who helped me as best as they could to aid the wounded…Food, and above all drink, had to be taken around to these men.  Then their wounds could be dressed and their bleeding, muddy, vermin-covered bodies washed.  All this took place in a scorching, filthy atmosphere, in the midst of vile, nauseating odors, with lamentations and cries of anguish all around!”  From this courageous action by Dunant at Solferino, the International Red Cross was born.

Dunant returned to Geneva but was so preoccupied with what he has seen at Solferino that he wrote a book at his own expense in 1862 entitled ‘ A Memory of Solferino’.  He wrote at length about the wounds and suffering he had seen and the shambles in which urgently necessary surgery was done.  “Would it not be possible”, he pleaded, “in time of peace and quiet to form relief societies for the purpose of having care given to the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted and thoroughly qualified volunteers?”

On August 22nd 1864, through the impetus of Dunant’s book, the historic First Geneva Convention was birthed.  It provided for the alleviation of the sufferings of soldiers wounded on the battlefield.  It gave neutral status to the military hospitals and medical personnel of the armies of the signing countries.  As an identifying symbol, the Geneva Convention decided that these non-combatants should wear a red cross on a white field, a reversal of the colours in the Swiss national flag.  In 1865 Great Britain and Canada added their names to the first ten European countries who signed the Geneva Convention treaty.

Tragically, Jean Henri Dunant subsequently suffered from business failure and deep depression.  Resigning from the Red Cross in 1867, he virtually disappeared from sight.  In 1895, Dunant was discovered in Heiden, Switzerland by a newspaper reporter. By then the Red Cross had become famous, and financial assistance to assist Dunant began to pour in from all around the world.  In 1901 Dunant shared with Frederick Passy, a French internationalist, the first Nobel Peace Prize.  From Geneva, his old home, came this message from the International Committee of the Red Cross: “There is no man who more deserves this honour, for it was you, forty years ago, who set on foot the international organization for the relief of the wounded on the battlefield.  Without you, the Red Cross, the supreme humanitarian achievement of the nineteenth century would probably have never been undertaken.”  Dunant gave all of the Nobel Peace Prize money away to charity, and died peacefully in his sleep on October 30th 1910.

Few people realize that Jean Henri Dunant also helped co-found the International Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).  Dunant started very humbly by inviting a few friends to meet regularly at his house to study the Bible, to encourage each other in good works, and to bring about a spiritual awakening among young people.

Jean Henri Dunant proved that one person can make a difference.  One person can change this world.  Jean Henri Dunant knew Jesus Christ as his Bridge over Troubled Water.  My prayer during this time of great uncertainty is that many of us may turn to the Bridge who will give us the strength to care for our neighbours for better for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer for poor.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide