“There are more sacramental moments than we know.” —Brian Doyle
Beside a canvas shelter marked only
with a single white crucifix, khaki-clad
Marines kneel before a makeshift altar.
A chaplain in chasuble and stole invokes
the Savior’s presence in Eucharistic prayer.
Palm fronds and tree limbs shadow vulnerable
bodies. A jacket, belt and canteen hang
from an overhead branch. Not far away,
the Coral Sea churns as waves score the beaches.
On this Resurrection morning, in domed
and marble chapels across the ocean,
families pray for loved ones’ safety
and an end to war. This dated black
and white photograph shows men
with heads bowed and hands clasped
in prayer. Worried and weary faces
suggest a lull in the battles scattered
across the Solomon Islands
from Guadalcanal north to Bougainville.
The eyes of the priest are closed for a moment,
a respite in the ongoing bloodshed. Here,
a chaplain performs his sacred duty
while Japanese troops may lie quite near,
plotting the next round of slaughter.
Confounding mystery and grace,
the Marines worship in peace.