Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Beating Retreat

‘Beating Retreat’ is a custom that is hundreds of years old and dates back to the days of the walled towns where, for protection, the gates were closed at dusk. However, lest there be any enemy in the vicinity, the local garrison would give a show of strength, marching around the city walls, playing martial music. Then, having created the correct impression, the soldiers would retreat within the protective walls.

Nowadays, the massed bands of the six regiments of Guards, on two evenings during the first week of June, Beat Retreat at Horseguards Parade in a wonderful hour of music and military drill. I counted two hundred infantry and, I think, the same number of Household Cavalry, with their magnificent plumes and gleaming armour.

My plan had been to stand, free of charge, in the cordoned area reserved for the ticketless, but God had other plans. A sergeant-major marched towards us. Some of the complimentary tickets were unused: would we like to have one?

Sitting in the front row, enjoying a wonderful evening, surrounded by the flags of all the Commonwealth countries, listening to the bandsmen playing ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ was a unique experience.

We talk about the Will of God, often as though it is a burden to be borne…but what about the times when the Will of God is for a treat? Do we remember to say thank you?

Do we count our blessings as readily as our woes?

God bless,
Sr. Janet