Monday, November 12, 2012

Peace


Vanessa I am so grateful you chose to step inside and join our Conversation.  I too have observed the way the silent world of birds and beasts inclines toward our own inward peace.  Perhaps taking care with words is a way of preserving the peace between us.

I am delighted to meet you James.  Thank you for your gentle comments here and on those several posts past.  You have the gift of simplicity!

And Gary, we meet as fellow travelers.  Handcrafts, classics of all kinds, the Shakers, William Morris and the Kelmscott Press, and the tea ceremony were all important steps along our way to Innermost House.  I look forward to answering every one of your questions over time.

I attended a Veteran's Day parade over the weekend.  There must have been three hundred veterans altogether, men and women, old and young.  Most walked.  Some were in wheelchairs.

It was a very homely assemblage.  None were in uniform, there was no formation, and no distinction of rank was made.  There was nothing to distinguish them from anyone else until you looked into their faces.

There they all wore one expression, a look of earnest inwardness.  They had shared a common experience of life and death.  They had known Necessity.  It was an expression of utter seriousness and selflessness.  We were there with them, but they were in another world.

The simplicity and spontaneity of the march was as far from a military maneuver as can be imagined.  People stood or walked alongside the moving parade, cheering out their encouragement and thanks.  I just applauded and cried.

Veteran's Day does not celebrate a victory.  It does not mourn a loss.  It is simply a way of remembering, an acknowledging and giving of thanks.  To me it is a fitting beginning to the Thanksgiving season.

A friend walked with me to the end of the parade route where some short speeches were given.  He guided us into a perfect spot for watching the sun set over the sober gathering.

We found ourselves standing next to a man my friend recognized as a veteran, and asked why he wasn't in the parade.  When I heard I encouraged him too, but we could not persuade him.  So there we three stood together watching until my friend had to leave.

Afterward, when the man and I were left alone, I asked him about his experience.  He had served in Vietnam.  He wouldn't say much, but it was clear he was still haunted by it even after all these years.

He spoke of how divided he feels still, drawn to such gatherings and yet keeping apart, still torn by the tension of involvement in a world that left him a divided man.

I thought about him for the rest of the day, and I am thinking of him still.  I do not know the right and wrong of things like war.  But I am grateful to that man. And I am sorry.  I hope he finds his way to an innermost place of peace.


7 comments:

  1. Perhaps the most difficult thing for a vet I know is that no one has any way of knowing how the experience of war has left him changed forever. He mourns the loss of, among other things, the person he was before the war. He witnessed man at his most base and hates that piece of himself that had the war experience. I was encouraged to read "I Always Sit With My Back To The Wall" to gain some perspective. It's an unsettling read..... as it should be.

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  2. As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, I thank you for your gentleness and compassion toward this man. My father, a Marine, was also one that stood, to some degree, on the edges. He struggled for many years inside himself with what he had seen and had to do to survive. It wasn't until hours before his passing that I could feel him letting go of the struggle and simply rest. I am ever thankful for whatever God did in those last hours to give him the peace that he so longed for. When we made the arrangements for his burial, the veterans section was called "the Garden of Freedom." He is now truly free.
    Blessings, Kimberly

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  3. I thought this might be a good place to share this. It is a way for us to thank our troops. I did it once in a Walmart parking lot to two young men who were wearing fatigues, and they acknowledged me, so they knew what it meant. It's a great thing. See for yourselves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSfFYxSdKdo

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    1. Thanks for sharing this link, Julie. I have caught myself hesitating in the past to 'say' anything and now I will try this expression which seems less like interrupting someone and more like a heartfelt, knowing smile.

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    2. This made me cry. The Veteran's Administration office for returned Vets who are applying for assistance is on my floor at work, and so I often have the opportunity to say "Thank you for your service" when I'm waiting at the elevators with the men and women who leave the office. This sign language is great though, for those moments in passing when an active duty service man or woman passes by me in uniform. I will use it.

      Sherry, I don't know if you tried this yet, but you will have to highlight, copy and paste the link into the web address bar and then click enter to make the link work.

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  4. I couldn't get the link to work, Julie

    But, Diana I did want to say that this post was wonderful. I don't have any military in my family. It seems that the generational thing fell between wars. I also don't feel like I have any business posting, but I did to say that as Ember once said that when we don't post it is because we are thinking things over.

    I am sure that it was a moving experience.

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    1. Hi Sherry. If you will highlight the link and right-click on it, you'll be able to click on "go to" the link. I hope that works for you. xx

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