My soldier will be home soon.
The other night, my husband said, "We've been putting a brave face on all of this - but I am going to be relieved when it's over."
And she's seen and been near and heard about and dealt with the fallout from so much hideousness that I wonder ... I wonder what part of our country's burden she will deal with. What part of the warrior's sacrifice we will deal with.
See, that's the deal. Soldiers don't just walk off the stage and repair their costumes and then come back into view. While they're gone and we can't see them, they absorb into their bodies and minds a permanent burden of pain. And, as William Blake said, "It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend." That's the other part about being a soldier that the people at home cannot know. The narrative includes the doubting Thomas and the thrice-denying Peter. Closest friends who don't get it. Betrayal. Abandonment.
In this Eastertide, as we approach Ascension Day on Thursday, I think about the fact that Jesus used his scars as proof. Remember that? Jesus, very God of very God, begotten not made, being of one substance with the Father, came to earth, and was a helpless baby, and now he bears the scars of our pain. That's the Christian story. He who knew no sin became sin for us.
He showed Thomas the scars. See? he said. It's really me. I am not a ghost. I'm the risen Christ - look where the nails and the spear went in. He could eat with them - feast with them - talk with them - rejoice with them ... but he still held the scars in his body.
Soldiers do that. Even if they come home "without a scratch," they hold in their bodies and minds the pain - the anguish of the world. They bear it for the rest of their lives.
Lots of research has been done lately about post-traumatic growth and health. There is such a thing. I'll be looking into it. I need to know how to process this kind of pain. The story of the restoration of Peter - when Jesus asked him three times, "Peter, do you love me?" - that story is important to me today. Peter was restored. Peter turned from the sword and learned to feed sheep.
Odysseus. And Achilles. Our Lord, too. Permanently changed because of sacrifice and battle. Victory doesn't come cheap. And now I want verbiage. The book covers are linked to sites - just click.