Thought for the Month (November 2018)

Dear Friends

As a small child growing up in Kent, one of my best friends was Mr Judge. I never knew his first name and a mere 90 years separated our ages. Mr Judge always had time to listen to my endless questions - why do daisies have so many petals? Why is the sky blue? - and I in turn loved to hear his tales spoken in his deep, gruff voice and Kentish twang.

Most of his stories were of farming. How he ploughed with the big plough horses, or slept nights in the oast houses as the hops were drying. Sometimes they were of childhood friends, dancing round the Maypole on Empire Day, or playing cricket.

Just occaionally they were of the Great War, his face darkening, tears falling. Too old to fight himself, his "young lad", the apple of his eye, had joined up. On aquiet day, Mr Judge claimed he could hear the guns firing. He worried about "the lad", fearing he would never return. He didn't. The name etched onto the war memorial brought no relief to his father all those long years later.

Mr Judge never attended the Village Parade on Remembrance Sunday. He did however attend evening worship at our local chapel, where he told me he prayed for "all the young lads who never went home, and their families, whatever nationality".

Mr Judge never knew the legacy he left with me. It shines brightly, much brighter than the gold leaf overlay on that war memorial.

Rev. Helen Warmington

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church