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Letters from Tim

Dear Friends,

Last weekend our family had a gathering to celebrate a baptism. People came from several countries and there was much sharing and reminiscing. One particular picture was taken of four generations together. The richness of shared memories, the sense of belonging, having a common identity made the occasion a good celebration.

The memories and coming together around Remembrance Day this coming weekend always brings mixed emotions and feelings.  The poppies symbolise the sufferings and deaths of millions in conflict, they are worn with respect, in a sombre mood and with an awareness of the frailty of living in our world.

In recent decades our remembering has rightly broadened from remembering just those who fought in conflicts, to others caught up in them as civilians and non-combatants.

For me this is best illustrated in the National Arboretum in Staffordshire which is developed on land reclaimed after quarrying, in order to remember those who died in armed conflicts. This reclamation and new life constitutes a remarkably symbolic foundation for a place where remembrance and new understandings complement one another. In the chapel is a wood carving of children gathered around a storyteller, who appears to be Jesus. Various adults listen in. On the front, are engraved the words, 'The past is the key to the future.'

At the very centre of the arboretum stands a huge mound bearing the Armed Forces Memorial, which commemorates all who have been killed in military service since the Second World War.

It is well worth a visit.



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