Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Valor



“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.”-  Victor Hugo

Everybody knows everybody.  In a town this small anyone within city limits knows his neighbor.  The novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder wasn't too far off in his depiction of small town life in his play Our Town.  There's a Methodist, Catholic, and Baptist church in town.  A cemetery, a mom and pop's grocery store, a post office, a photography studio, a post office, a quilt shop, a car repair shop and a pharmacy line the main streets.  The wind yanks at the lights and wreaths that hang from the light poles lining main street causing them to rock and sway. But today, it isn't any of the decorations that catch my attention.  On the outskirts of town lies a Catholic cemetery.  They stand, brave and tall.  White hats sit on their heads like doves, and their blue coats have a line of straight brass buttons down the front.  USMC.  

The wind is blowing hard today, and yet they stand calmly in their dress blues.  I wait.  A police car blocks traffic, and I have no choice but to wait.  I wonder.  Who was this soldier?  As far as my eyes can see the cars, trucks and vans continue to come.  A white hearse pulls up next to the hole lined with green carpet cloth.  December. Such a hard time to lose someone you love. Such a sad time to say goodbye.  But then, is anytime a good time to say goodbye?  The men salute the hearse, the two stand alone. Their pants whip in the wind.  I think to myself, "What a depressing job!" To have to stand by the grave of another soldier, to see the faces of those he loved, to stand in the almost winter-cold and windchill, to say goodbye knowing that it could have been you.  And yet, honorable.  

My mind wanders to two separate graveside experiences, both in December.  Snow will cover it all, and spring will come.  The quietness of winter, the death of things living.  The promise of Spring blossoming and bringing life again to all things.  Hope.  In the midst of pain there is hope.  These goodbyes are not forever.  And yet, we are all standing by.  In one way or another, we are standing by and waiting.  We are living.  Learning to say goodbye takes a special kind of courage.  Bravery is doing in the face of difficulty what is honorable. 

Bravery may be standing by and being excited for a friend when she is engaged and getting married, and you are still single.  Bravery may be meeting that friend who is pregnant when you aren't, but want to be.  Bravery may be stepping across the street to see your neighbor.  Bravery may be fostering those kids, you know, those ones that no one else takes.  The forgotten ones.  Bravery may be loving that person.  You know, the one who hurt you deeply.  Bravery isn't just for soldiers. Noble causes can be taken on by the most common of men. 

Bravery, valor and honor led my Savior to the cross. 

Where do you see courage and honor in your life today? What do you need to be brave about?  Heroes are made one choice at a time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Through

"Sometimes even to live is an act of courage." -Seneca

He comes home dejected, wondering if he'll pass those classes.  Those classes.  The ones he vowed he'd never take.  The school. The work.  "We'll get through this," I say.  Through.  There is no great leap over an obstacle, no instant solution for a problem. Often the hardest road traveled is the road through.

When on a road trip, there is endless scenery, but after awhile it all begins to look the same.  Each landscape melding itself with the next, one lonely road hinged to another.  Billboards to break up some of the monotony, quiet silence and road noise wrapping up the mind in droning thoughts like "When will this end?" and "Are we there yet?"  These thoughts are silenced.  As adults we learn to wait, and know that life isn't just a destination or a vacation.  

With child-like anticipation we await the next thing, the moment, the destination, the day.  This going through is a journey that takes courage. This isn't our home, but it is easy to live as if it is.  In the midst, dear Lord, help me be thankful for what I have.  With open hands, help me to travel through and love well. 


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