There is a scene from the film “Atonement” that is miraculous in many ways. First, it is frightfully recaptures the British army’s forced evacuation of more than 300,000 allied soldiers on the beach of Dunkirk, France in 1940. Nearly 68,000 British soldiers died over the two-week period, and all of the forces’ tanks, trucks, ships, and even horses, were lost.
Second, it is one of the most technically astounding scenes on film. A steadicam captured the near continuous shot, which ran well over five minutes. Please rewatch it as, despite its pain and madness, it IS a work of art.
Finally, midway through the scene, you hear a group of British soldiers singing a 19th century hymn by Paul Greenleaf Whitter called “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.” My church sang it today. Freak that I am, I remembered it and wanted to share it with you.
There is anarchy all around the world today, especially in the Ukraine, Egypt and Syria. Yet it can be argued that each of us, depending on how we respond to the stressors in our lives, endures our own form of chaos.
This particular verse captures, not just the scene in the film, but the state of our world and our own lives today.
May you hear the still, small voice of calm.
“Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease; take from our souls the strain and stress and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace, the beauty of thy peace.
“Breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm; let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still, small voice of calm, O still, small voice of calm.”