This poem was read during Sunday’s celebration of life. It accompanies the sermon “Military Service and the Alternatives” posted elsewhere on this blog.
â€œTHE FRIENDS RECONSTRUCTION UNITâ€¨â€”THE MANUFACTURING DEPARTMENTâ€
by L. Griswold Williams, in France, 1918
Iâ€™ve been making windowsâ€”â€¨
Oak windows in our shop along the riverâ€”â€¨
Thinking of where theyâ€™ll go and what theyâ€™ll maybe do:â€¨
Windows to overlook the crumpled roofs of clattering towns,
â€¨To open out across the silent wastedness of trampled farms,
â€¨On white-scarred vineyard slopes,â€¨
Or shattered woodlands healing at the touch of Spring.
Some may be gates of magic liberation,â€¨
Giving on living worlds of leaf and sky,â€¨
Where those whose feet can never tread dear earth
â€¨Shall send their spirits wandering far;
â€¨At these will children climb to greet the infant moon,â€¨
Or press their noses tight, watching the first snow feathers fall;â€¨
Through here may little breaths of morning murmur;â€¨
This humble shrine dayâ€™s glowing altar fires . . .
And Iâ€™ve been making doorsâ€”
â€¨Doors that shall open as a sheltering hand to harassed heartsâ€¨
Praying a solace in some broken place;â€¨
Doors guarding at last those helpless onesâ€¨
Guns could not guard nor armies make secure.
Here homing age may fumble at a lock,
â€¨Or venturing youth push wide with eager hand;
â€¨This door may usher Birth with hopefulness,
Close quietly when Death has passed with friendly eyes,
Or part relentlessly two lovers, lingering with reluctant lips at dusk;
Here may a woman lean with shadowed face, Waiting a lad who lies in an untilled field . . .
Iâ€™ve not made doors and windows for chateaux or palacesâ€”
Only for little wooden dÃ©montables*
To shelter mostly simple folk
Dripped from the grinding jaws of War.
Red tiles will be for roof, the walls be brown,
and green the white-knobbed doors.
The sections bolt together easily,
As barren as a shed for animals almost, Until my doors and windows make itâ€”
Home . . .
O patient Master Workman of the world,
Shaper of all this home of humankind,
Teach me the truer trade of making doors and windows for menâ€™s souls:
Windows for letting in Loveâ€™s widening dawn,
Doors swinging outward freely on Truthâ€™s pleasant ways.
*â€œDÃ©montableâ€â€“adjective describing something that may be disassembled. The â€œpre-fabâ€ houses Friends constructed for French villages were called â€œles dÃ©montables.â€