A Boy’s Gift: On the Building of Welcome Church, Summer 1943

(for Burtis Dorning)

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
 John 4: 14

As fearless farm boys crossed an ocean to fight and die
in a war like no other before it,
you, a child too young for battalions and brigades,
performed a soldier’s duty at home
carrying cool water
to Christian carpenters constructing a country church
without spires or steeples
or heralded history.

While Europe’s cathedrals shook and shivered
and buckled from bomb and blitz,
your life-sustaining liquid gave strength and sustenance
as rafters raised heavenward
and a structure took shape
white and shining in the summer sun
like Noah’s calm, white dove
finally bringing good news out of destruction
a place of peace
to pray for peace
and the safe return
of young men
so far from home.

Through all these years
your gift of water
so simple but so necessary
irrigated a church
that needed liquid nourishment to grow
providing a place
to celebrate our births
grieve our dead
and teach our children
Sunday school lessons
about baby Moses on the river.

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