The Spencer Project - Part 1
He sits across from me manning the position that is his. I share what brings me from so many miles away and in this, his hearing develops into a careful listen. Many of the words I have to say remind him of what he knows well and I can see in his face that it is he who wants to share. As though he could offer nothing more verbally, Spencer pulls from his pocket a poem and hands it to me...
‘Twas the night before Christmas (My version…)
‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the world,
stood the Guardians of Freedom, some young and some old.
Their rifles were spotless and zeroed with care,
looking for the danger they know will be there.
They fear for their children at home in their beds,
yearning for the touch of a kiss on their heads.
And there I was prepared for the fight,
wondering when the evil of war would ignite.
When out of the dust there arose such a clatter,
I swiveled around to see what was the matter.
Outside the window, I saw a huge flash.
The air tasted rancid, of fuel and of trash.
The sound of my comrades, their cries in the air,
sent chills down my spine too cold to bare.
When what to my angered eyes should appear?
But a valiant young soldier, showing no fear.
I trained him well, but hoped he was brave,
hoping today it was my life he'd save.
With bullets whizzing over his head,
I feared in a moment that he would be dead.
Out of the smoke, more soldiers they came.
Some were like family, some with no name.
We deftly maneuvered, aiming to kill,
secretly saddened by the blood that we spill.
After the battle, on edge and so tired,
we relive the moments each bullet was fired.
We knew in a moment our lives had been changed,
some of us bloody, some brains rearranged.
Back at the FOB, I lie down and stare,
thinking of all the reasons I'm there.
Wiping my face with my own bloody glove,
I think of my family and all of their love.
I think of their faces with a tear in my eye,
glad that today was not my turn to die.
I think of America and all of her beauty,
honored to serve her, it's not just my duty.
I lived through today; I told you I would.
I'd be with you now, if only I could.
As I lie in my cot thinking of Christmas,
I smile from the thought of joy that it brings us.
I know you can't hear me, but I'm just out of sight.
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”
I look up after reading this intimate rhyme and stare directly into the eyes that take me back over a solid decade. My compassion for those who have seen gross evils doubles in an instant and I can hardly look away from the one I wish to embrace.
I have learned, pain has no barrier that it refuses to cross. It just spreads until its stop is forced. The only problem with this is that when its a spiritual injury, there is no formula created by man that can kill the intense, lingering effects that an experience like this has on the soul.
As I do what I do best at a time like this, it isn’t long before Spencer digs again. From another folded piece of paper comes words that pull me back to my place on the floor beside him.
To be continued…
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)