This is Memorial Day in the US. Many people do not know that this day of remembrance was begun by former slaves honoring the dead Union soldiers in Charleston, South Carolina. This is a day for remembering those who made the final sacrifice.
My husband is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point. We married after graduation and spent 20 years moving from post to post. West Point instills in it’s graduates a phenomenal love of country and a desire to be the best person you can be. My husband has lived out that code his entire life.
Two years of that time were spent in Viet Nam with a brief tour in the states in between. He led a Company of soldiers and spent the first year almost entirely in the jungle. His men faced danger every day. The jungle was so hot that they literally rotted through their uniforms and new ones had to be delivered by helicopter each week. They never knew each day if they would be just struggling through the heavy jungle growth or fighting for their lives. Each night’s rest could be interrupted by gunfire and fear. He fought during the Tet Offensive and cannot talk about that time.
His men loved him and after he returned home I received a letter in the mail with money collected from the company for us to enjoy meals out. He was the only commander who walked away from that company. The others died.
Each day I thank God that he returned home, not only in one piece, but also able to endure the memories. He has been to the Viet Nam wall in Washington, DC once and will never go again. It is too painful
Just thinking about the men who fought with him and the classmates of his who died in that war brings tears to my eyes and his. Neither of us can listen to taps played at military funerals. May God grant peace to all those who served in that war and all others. Those who lived and those who died. They blessed our lives.
We have had our friend, Harold Littlebird, here for the last few days. Harold’s heritage is Pueblo (I’m sorry I don’t remember more specifics) and he is an amazing potter, poet, storyteller, songwriter and singer. He is amazingly talented.
This is one of his pieces. Each piece has a story attached to it.
He is also deeply spiritual and an amazing Christian. He sees God as both infinite and immanent. God is present with him at all times and when you are with him you can feel that presence. It is a joy to be with him.
Having him in our home is such a reminder of the things I fail to do each day to connect me with God. Silence is his friend but he can also be fun and funny.
We have other friends who are native Americans (First Nations) and I am always awed by their connection with God and the earth. We all need to learn from them. We are so often careless with our use of the resources of the earth that God has blessed us with. We are supposed to be stewards but we have so often raped the earth. Our total disregard of the fact that things are not limitless has made the decline of the earth almost inevitable. I really hope that it can be turned around and that the earth can be sustained. I worry about my grandchildren and now my great grandchild. What kind of a world have we left for them?
I see on the web young people who are finding solutions to the problems that we have created and it gives me hope. Maybe it will take the next generations to reverse the trend. I hope so. I really hope so!
Seeing the destruction we have done makes me anxious for the future. Will we ever learn to care/
Today as I sat in church I was struck by the thought “don’t let religion divide us.” I am not sure why that came to me so strongly but there it was and it kept repeating itself until it was rooted in my mind.
There have been wars about territory, water rights, expansion of empires, money and whatever else. There have also been wars over religion. The middle east (or the fertile crescent) has changed hands so many times. Mostly is has been about territory but religion was involved. The fertile crescent had many different religions over the centuries but the Jewish worship of one god persisted.
As Christianity grew it encountered other faiths and prevailed over most of the ones in Europe. A form of the Jewish faith moved south and morphed into Islam with Mohammad.
During the middle ages Christianity and Islam battled in Spain and the Holy Land. The crusades were launched to recover the Holy Land. Many died in this conflict.
Later Christianity became obsessed with itself and the Inquisition had many innocents slaughtered in the name of religion.
Conflict rose again with the protestant reformation and Catholic and reform groups both suffered.
Religion has added prejudices to the ones about skin color, nationality, and anything that makes someone “other.” Now there is much disagreement among Christian denominations.
If we add the widening influence to other cultures and their faiths: Buddhism, Hinduism and many others we now have a world with religions bumping into each other everywhere.
I think all of this leads me back to my original thought. Do not let religion divide us. It already has with Islamic extremists planning death to “infidels,” fighting between India and Pakistan and conflict almost everywhere.
I love the God that I believe in and I don’t think that his/her intention is for us to slaughter each others over our faith. Instead we are called to love everyone. We are told to turn the other cheek. We are not told to murder others because of their beliefs. God is greater than us and his plan is beyond our understanding. Please Lord, help us not to kill each other over religion.
Yesterday I wrote about long term commitment and the benefits of it. When I think about it I left out something important. It is the ability to be yourself. No mask, no costume. nothing to hide the real you.
Most of my life I have been adaptable. It is something I learned early on from my father. He felt strongly that we should do our best to not make people uncomfortable. …..especially in social situations. This required not making anyone feel out of place by what they were wearing, how they spoke etc. I was a genius at adjusting language and conversation to fit my audience. I sought out people who seemed on the outside and tried to help them feel included. This is not a bad thing and it certainly is a kind thing.
This kind of thinking also led me into being the peacemaker. I do’t like conflict or discord at all. It can be very hard to always try to keep the peace. I’ve realized that this made me very tired. It is a lot less enervating to be yourself.
Somewhere along the way I forgot who I was. I was always wearing a mask, always being part of the group. I never voiced my own opinions if they were contrary. I wanted everything to go smoothly. … everyone to be happy. When my children were growing I smoothed most arguments. I was still playing a role.
Managing children at home led to more peacemaking and avoiding conflict. As our marriage grew I began removing the masks and the other personas and was free to be me. Total acceptance of who you are frees you. Unconditional love allows you to be totally open. It’s not that we were not ourselves in the beginning but now there are no closets unopened. Time has opened them all.
It is impossible to understand what is happening in the USA. Now there has been a shooting in rural Texas….a small town of about 400 people. It seems that the shooter was not part of the town but came in from outside. There is not enough known to say much about this except that I am weeping for my country. The violence is so pervasive that it seems that no one can escape it. It is hard to understand why this is almost an every day occurrence.
Having grown up at a time when this kind of violence was unheard of it is hard to take a look over the years to see what has changed. Apparently there was a scene in the recent movie “The Kingsmen” where someone went into a church and shot people. I have wondered before if seeing violence everywhere has dulled us to it.
Who can tell where all this will lead. Why is there so much hatred? Is there nothing that we can do? I keep remembering that I am only one but I am one. I will continue to talk about seeking peace. I will speak out about violence. I will speak out about my faith. I am sure that God weeps along with us and will grant those of us who speak out the strength to continue to do so. I do think that each of us matters and somehow we will be heard.
I weep for my country and all those who have lost a loved one in all the recent violence. God help us!
I think many of us living in the USA are worried about the state of our country. There is so much hatred, so much dissent and so much violence. If I didn’t live here I don’t think I would visit.
Recently something showed up on Facebook with people having their DNA analyzed. Many of them before being tested talked about their perception of their background and their beliefs. Some stated dislike of other cultures. It was a wake up call when they discovered that part of their DNA came from those cultures they disliked. It’s too bad that we can’t test everyone to show what a polyglot humans have become. It might solve some of the prejudice and hatred going around to find that you had genes from the people you hate.
It seems that people want to hate. They also want to incite others to hate. The beginning of the football season here is an example. Again players are not standing for the national anthem. Maybe some people feel that a song or a flag are not that important and why shouldn’t the players do what they want. They do have freedom of speech but for a long time athletes were an example to the young of good sportsmanship and national pride. They may still be an example but to encourage others to hatred and dissent. When I see those who are so dissatisfied with life in this country I want to send them to live in a third world country for a least a year. And not with the millions of dollars they are earning here. I have done that and it certainly will help you to appreciate this country no matter its flaws.
The people who did the most for others in this world in modern times were both believers in non-violence….Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Both were wonderful examples of how to change the world they lived in peacefully. They did believe in speaking out and making needed changes known but in a way that brought about a good result. These men were people of God. There have been others… Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela. I am sure there are more that I don’t know or remember. We need more of these people. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God” The Bible Matthew 5:9
May we all strive to be peacemakers. Let us sow love