I am grateful for…everyone who has risked being brought home under a flag so that I could have the choice of whether or not to honor that flag.
Greetings Dear Reader,
The world is in turmoil. We are still on a war footing in the Middle East. Antarctica may be the only continent where there is not rampant violence. In this country our ability to disagree rationally is eroding daily.
We talk about the impact of all this and how to make a difference. We ask how we can impact the world in a way that will last. It seems that the difficulties are too great for us assail. Faith erodes and hope is thin. Hope seems thinnest in the places where our minds and hearts are filled with pain and loss. I have several veteran friends who have expressed this.
About a year ago I was at a coffee shop writing. I had my “feel free to share my table” sign up because the coffee shop was busy and I wanted to respect the needs of the owner. I was brain-deep in the novel I was writing and did not notice the young man who approached me.
Clearing his throat to get my attention, he asked as I looked up, “Is it OK if I sit here sir?” It was the way he said “sir” that caught my attention. Smiling broadly, I told him he was welcome to join me. He quietly put down his coffee cup and took a seat opposite me.
We introduced ourselves and I asked if he wanted to talk or just enjoy his breakfast. He responded, “I don’t want to bother you sir. I just did not want to sit by myself.” It was that “sir” again that caught my attention. It had a professional timbre rather than a submissive or timid quality.
On a hunch I asked him, “Are you a veteran?”
“Yes sir,” he replied.
I asked then what I always ask. It is an easy question for veterans to answer and it opens the door for conversation if they wish it. I asked, “What was your job in the military?”
He told me that he was in the Army and what he did. I leave it out here because it might be enough information to violate his privacy. It was, however, the right question. He immediately began to talk. I was honored to listen and get to know a man who seemed to have little to show for his risk and sacrifice for my freedom. Since his return from the desert and discharge he has been one of the walking wounded.
He spoke honestly, not dramatically or emotionally of his struggles. He has trouble socially and keeping a job. He told me that he did not feel his problems mattered because he had no physical wounds. He was in a vehicle destroyed by an IED. The other three people in it were killed. He did not get a scratch. He felt guilty for being alive.
I just listened. I will not begin to think for a moment that I am equipped to help him out of so much pain. When he grew tired of talking, I told him that I only had one answer and that I realized he was not asking me for one. He looked at me and said, “you are going to tell me about Jesus, aren’t you?”
I smiled again and said, “Not if I do not need to.” He smiled back and said that he was running out of hope and just wanted someone to listen. He said that I did that. He explained that during the conversation he had decided that he needed to go to the VA and get some help. I gave him my number and asked if he would just text me when he got there so I would not worry about him. We both knew he could lie.
I have heard from him a couple of times since then. I am grateful for him and everyone who has risked being brought home under a flag so that I could have the choice of whether or not to honor that flag. Thank you to those who have served and risked all so that we can choose how we live. I think to honor them we had best find ways to make choices that care for each other in a better way.
I did little in this gratitude story. I am thankful Dear Reader that I was allowed to listen to a man who was looking for hope. Do something today to show your gratitude to our veterans. You could do something every day if you tried.
Wishing you joy in the journey,
Mat 13:52 So Jesus said to them, “That is why every writer who has become a disciple of Christ’s rule of the universe is like a home owner. He liberally hands out new and old things from his great treasure store.”
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Originally published at aramisthorn.blogspot.com on November 11, 2018.