7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
Luke 17: 7-10
As a member of a society that values hard work and believes workers should be compensated accordingly, it is hard to imagine selfless service performed out of duty, obligation, and yes, even gratitude and joy.
How many of us settle our weary bones into bed at night with prayers of thanks that we were able to serve others that day? How many of us are reminded we do nothing to earn the love and life we are given?
I come up short. Full of shadow, waiting for His light to illuminate me.
Lord, have mercy. Have mercy
May my eyes see, my ears hear, my heart understand. He prepares me with parable.
(for my father on Memorial Day)
It was only a part of what we knew about you-
serving three long years in the South Pacific,
spoken of obliquely
only if asked about,
but never really answered.
We knew you were a Marine battalion leader,
knew you spent too many nights without sleep,
unsure if you’d see the dawn
only to dread
what the next day would bring.
We knew you lost friends
and your innocence;
found unaccustomed strength
inside a mama’s boy
who once cried too easily and later almost never.
Somehow life had prepared you for this:
pulling your daddy out of bars when you were ten
watching him beat your mama
until finally getting big enough
to stand in the way.
Then Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian beaches
to be restored and renewed
as vacation resorts.
We let you go without knowing
your full story–
even Mom didn’t ask.
You could not share the depth
of horror and fear you felt.
It was not shame that kept you silent;
simply no need to revisit
the pain of remembrance.
It was done, finished, you had done your duty.
So as we again set flowers and flag
on your grave,
reunited with Mom after years apart,
I regret so many questions unasked
of your sacrifice beyond imagining.
Sleep well, Dad,
with Mom now by your side.
I rejoice you have wakened
to a renewed dawn.
Light as two grasshopper husks,
Mirror image, seesaw,
Picket twin, swallowtail,
The crux in hand, a woman’s tool.
Well worn as my feet.
O wood in palm,
Purveyor of order,
The business of carrying on,
The tune whistled under my windowsill.
–Ann Quinn from “Clothespin”