Friday, May 31, 2019

Are These Poppies?

Are these poppies? 

"Yes," he said. "Do you want to hear a story about them?"

He liked to say he was older than dirt. He truly was, I believe.

"I remember the dead," he said. 

"There was an invisible soldier. It was long ago, before you and all of your people. He wasn't really invisible," he continued, leaning in with a smile. "But sometimes people think they are one thing or another when they are not. Do you know you are like that? You remind me of him. He was brave. Who am I kidding? He was naive. That works too, you know," then a subtle nod as if he were recalling something specific, and back to the story.

"His name is unimportant, to you, but its meaning is central to the story. Lion-hearted. He had no fear. He was obedient. If he had an order he followed it. You are like that, getting better each time," he nodded again and smiled. "Lion, I'll call him."

He went on, "Lion was stick thin when he was a child. He was not only small, he felt small. He felt insignificant, invisible, tiny. His voice was a peep. His toys were small. His heart was small. His imagination was small. Oh, but he wanted to be a hero, to fight and overcome."

He paused for a moment.

"No one else saw him coming," he chuckled. "But I did. I was the only one aware of his capabilities. He was not invisible to me!"

He hit his chest like a proud ape. It made me laugh. 

"I'd been on patrol that day with the men. The enemy was hiding all around. They were giant. My men were not. But their size made the enemy easy to see and I watched them. They surrounded us, plotting and planning, waiting, thinking. It would be to no avail, I knew, because at the crucial moment the enemy would not move ahead. They would remain cemented in place and my men would march on by, step by step, without realizing how close they'd been. It can be a good thing not to know. Knowing is sometimes just a distraction."

I nodded. I still didn't know what happened.

He smiled, "I'm getting to that."

With a glint in his eye, he continued, "Lion was the first to see the soldiers, some wounded, some already dead. They were stacked. Yes, stacked. Someone had done this deliberately. They were dragged and placed and unable to move unless the one on top sprang to life. The message was clear: fear us. I saw my men, one by one, assume fear. It blinded them and they began to scatter and search for cover. But not Lion. He couldn't reach the man on top. He couldn't move the man on the bottom. He could not see around them or past them or through them. Lion closed his eyes, bowed his head, and said a prayer in a small, tiny, stick thin voice that became stronger with each word. He was shaking when he started, but not when he finished. 

'What are you doing,' one of his men hissed from the safety of an overturned tree.

Another added, 'Stop!'

'Why?' Lion asked.

Why indeed? Why stop?

He pointed to a tall tree in the distance. It was standing upright.

"That's the one they hid under," he said, assuring me it was true. "It was one of the things changed by Lion's prayers. First, healing for the man holding all the others down, then for the others. One by one. There was hardly a break between his prayers for the injured and for those who were only hiding. Tiny, lion-hearted Lion stood and prayed even when the enemy returned, even when the firing started again, even when the dead soldiers stood up and the living ones snapped back into place, as if their injuries had propelled them. His men began to stand with him, only some of them at first, and then, when they realized the enemy could not hurt them, the others; not bravely, to be sure, but obediently, and each of them became brave because of it."

He paused and asked me if I understood.

"God moves," he explained.

"And the poppies?" I asked.

"The poppies are for remembering those who were lost," he said. "But they also remind me of these men. In the end, we didn't lose even one that day."


  1. The poppy is a symbol of those who are no longer in the British Army.

    1. PS - There Is the entrance to the church where the former Pope Paulal II was priest in Krakow.

  2. That was so interesting to read! When I see poppies I always think about Polish solduers who were killed during II World War in Monte Cassino, it is because of a song from that times. You asked about my placemat - no, I am not so talented to make it myself, I bought it in second hand shop☺ Have a lovely weekend, I am following ☺☺

  3. In the UK Remembrance Sunday is the Sunday nearest to 11 November.

    God bless.

  4. There was a bloody battle (one of many) during wwII (17-18 May 1944) in Italy, to regain the Monte Cassino monastery (occupied by the German army at that time). The Polish Army of general Anders, army of people rescued from the Soviet Union fought there and many were lost. AfterDuring and after the battle one of the soldiers wrote a song entitled "Red poppy flowers at Monte Cassino" - telling how the soldiers died there and the flowers are red because they drank the Polish blood.

  5. Wonderful story Sandi...when I see poppies that are red I immediately think of all the men and women during WWII who fought. Such a lovely piece Sandi. Hugs!

  6. This is wonderful, Sandi! And it can be read on more than one level, starting with Lion as a symbol of Jesus. You are such a compelling writer.

    It's interesting to read the comments and see what poppies remind people of. So I'll share mine, which is of course, a Canadian perspective and that is John McCrae's haunting poem "In Flanders Fields." For me the poppy is forever a symbol of sacrifice, loss, love, courage, and challenge. Happy weekend!

  7. Very nice Sandi. My mother took us to buy our poppy every Remembrance Day (UK's Memorial Day). It has been very much part of my life and still is when remembering our fallen.

  8. Wow - that was awesome. And I love poppies and what they stand for, will remember this next time I see some.

  9. I have always loved poppies and their meaning. This is lovely.

  10. I always have to stop and think when I read your posts, Sandi. Always so deep and profound on levels that challenge me deep within. I am still thinking about this one. Very powerful.

  11. Beautiful! It explains well the reason for poppies on Memorial Day.

  12. Wow, So powerful, when I see a poppy I will now remember these words, of truth! Thank you for sharing.

  13. Beautiful flower and wonderful story.

  14. Poppies are very special, yes, a remembrance. My dad always donated every year and was given a poppy with a little American flag. He tied them together and strung them from his rearview mirror in his yellow truck...Every year he would add the poppy and little flag. He had quite the bouquet of them as only my dad could do...A veteran himself.

    Yes, poppies are special. Very.

    Thanks for sharing this story. Blessings! : )

  15. Powerful read dear Sandi!
    lucky to not miss it !

    a beautiful tribute and a sublime treat for readers
    thank for for sharing the most impressive character with such dignity !
    my heart is touched!

  16. Hello Dear Sandi!

    I love red poppies.

    There is such a song in my country:

    Red poppies at Monte Cassino
    Instead of dew, were drinking Polish blood
    Through these poppies walked soldier and perished
    But stronger than death was his wrath
    Years go by and centuries will pass
    The traces of old days will last
    And all the poppies at Monte Cassino
    Will be redder because from Polish gore they'll grow

    Hugs and greetings:)

  17. I got goose bumps while reading this lovely story.

  18. Poppies are such a beautiful flower, this was a wonderful story you shared.
    Thank you.

    All the best Jan

  19. Wow! I loved this story Sandi. I buy poppies every year from our area veterans. Thank you for posting it. Have a lovely day.

  20. Oh good. Also gave me goosebumps!

  21. Wonderful story. I enjoyed reading it.

  22. Beautiful!
    Have a lovely June, dear Sandi!

  23. Excelente história. Realmente já conhecia a reação das papoilas com os mortos britânicos da II Guerra Mundial.
    Uma boa semana.
    Um beijo.

  24. Beautiful photo of poppies; and i love the story.
    Have a blessed week, Sandi.

  25. This is very moving and meaningful prose. Poppies as a symbol of those lose in war has always been very affecting for me.