May 18, 2009
Today I wanted to write about our closing JustFaith retreat. I wanted to write about the amazing time in prayer, solitude, and what I learned from the members of the group. I wanted to write about how I am changed because of this year long program and how much more deeply I feel Christ because of it. And all this is true. But I can't write about any of it today. I can only write about the quote above.
St. Augustine writes, "Do what you can and then pray that God will give you the power to do what you cannot." This was one of many meditations we were given to choose from this weekend. I chose this one, not knowing how much I would need to repeat those words to myself in the coming day.
Sunday morning mom called and told me that Patrick's convoy in Afghanistan was hit with a roadside bomb. Details are muddled but we know sweet Pat is okay, with a concussion and some shrapnel wounds, but so far, okay. We know that other guys were not so lucky and we know that some insurgents were killed and others arrested. And while I know that death is a part of war, it brings me no solace. I am not sorry about that. If I've learned anything from this JustFaith journey I've been on, it's the sanctity of life. OF ALL LIFE. Be it an unborn baby, a man on death row, a person hungry and homeless on the corner, a neglected child, a desperate prostitute or a terrorist, ALL LIFE IS SACRED. My God made every single one of the guys involved in that attack, The 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' and He grieves the loss of each of them, just as I do. My God and I grieve for the insurgents and for whatever horrid roads got them to this place of extremism and radicalism. We grieve for their misunderstanding of their faith which, in its truest form, rejects war and demands peace. We grieve for their children, who do not have a childhood and now do not have a parent. And we grieve for P.K, my sweet little brother who I cannot picture as a 25-year-old trained soldier, but only as a 6-year-old playing teeball. We grieve for what he saw, and what he will remember and for the fear that pummelled through him as this happened. We grieve (and sob and sob some more) for the American soldiers in this convoy and countless others who were not so lucky, whose lives are ended or forever changed because of attacks. We grieve for mamas who pray incessantly for their sons and daughters.
Today as I attempted to leave for work, I was oversome with anger and sadness. I cried to sweet R and when I realized after talking with him that the waterworks were not quite finished (big surprise), I called Katrina. I sobbed to my friend who lived in Afghanistan and fought this war. She knows the base where Patrick is being transported and she knows the people of that region. She loves Patrick like a little brother and cried with me, knowing all too well what he is going through. She even attempted to get a friend in the area to go see him. I can't tell you how good 'doing something' feels, even if it can't happen.
So I'm at my desk now, thinking about what St. Augustine said.
Do what I can do:
Pray, ask others to pray, and then pray some more
Through Katrina, attempt to have someone familiar contact Patrick
wash my face, put on matching clothes, and go to work. Truly, this took effort today.
What I cannot fathom being able to do today:
I cannot watch anyone dying. My patients who suffer in their own way, need a capable social worker. I do not feel like I can be one today. Sweet God, please spare any of them rapid declines today or deaths. And if they have to go, infuse me with strength and compassion.
I cannot stop imagining Patrick is a little boy. Sweet God, help me see him as the capable, trained and intelligent soldier that he is.
I cannot think about exercising today. Sweet God, help me to know the relief that comes from pounding it all out on the pavement and from the time spent talking to you as I run. Give me energy.
I cannot stop the anger I have at this war and the senseless deaths surrounding it. Sweet God, help me use this to pray unceasingly for the end to all wars.
I cannot stop hurting for my friend Will, who lost his beloved of 34 years last night, and of the suffering I will see today. Sweet God, help me trust in the knowledge that this life is only a stopover until a much brighter one. Help me do as Ross suggested, and think of the new life I see, in baby Annali and baby Grant.
As I sit here and soothe myself with the steroid cupcake I swore I wouldn't eat, I cannot think of doing any of the things above. But the good news in all this junk is that I know a God who is Big and strong and able. And walking hand in hand, I think I can do it.