My Dad was a Prisoner of War in Nazi Germany. It was an important part of his legacy.
As the pilot of a B-17, he was shot down over Stuttgart and parachuted into a lake where he treaded water until the German military arrived. Any soldier who swam to shore would be beaten or killed by waiting citizens. This was the reality of war.
My Dad did not start talking about his war experience until late in life. I think his sons, grandsons (one of whom is a Naval Commander) and friends wanted to know his story. It was dramatic and cringe-worthy and was difficult for me to comprehend. War is just so horrible.
This was a big part of my Dad’s life; a life lived well with significant highs and lows. The war was a low point for a man who was never defeated in spirit.
However, I really didn’t want to hear about it. I didn’t like to hear about my Father in danger.
I am proud of my Father’s heroism and his military skills of survival. But, I liked the Dad that I knew personally. You see, my Father was one of the most fun-loving and joy-filled people that I ever knew. He had a wicked grin and a lovely sense of humor. He delighted in pranking his children and pulled some funny, funny tricks over his 91 years on this earth. There are so many stories that I can’t begin to share them all. Suffice it to say, there was rarely a dull moment around my home. He was the life of the party and the person we all wanted to be around. He was a magnet for people and they clung to him in love and laughter.
Dad had seen the worst in people including some horrid atrocities that come with being a soldier in combat. He had seen death in so many ways and did not relive those moments often.
Lent is like that for me. I have to force myself to walk through the awful process to get to the resurrection on Easter Sunday. I don’t want to consider the beaten, spit upon, abused, and mocked Jesus. That’s too hard. I don’t want to think of the blood, sweat and tears of Jesus. It is simply too painful to ponder. But sometimes, we have to remember in order to understand and appreciate the never-ending gift given to us through the shed blood of Christ. Sometimes we have to go through the worst to get to the best.
My Dad’s laugh resonates in my heart. My Lord’s sacrifice blesses my soul. The grace of Jesus Christ keeps me safe.
I am grateful. Eternally so…
“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:32-33