Rest? Peace? Odd Words Paired With Death

By his choice and his hand, Clay Hunt died on March 31, 2011.

During tours in Iraq and Afghanistan Hunt watched his buddies die, mourned these closest of friends.

After being wounded, Clay Hunt returned to the United States  determined to serve fellow veterans through lobbying efforts and through participation in Ride 2 Recovery.   He  reached farther into healing activities by including  humanitarian efforts in Haiti and Chile.

John Wordin, the founder of Ride 2 Recovery recognized that Clay Hunt was despondent with survivor’s guilt.  Family members talked of Hunts’s depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.  His life after combat continued to be haunted by his experiences.  Hunt’s marriage ended and he dropped out of school.   VA counseling followed.
Recovery looked genuine.  Hunt got a job, an apartment and was making a life with friends and new activities.  His life had a future including a Ride 2 Recovery event the first weekend in April.

By his choice and his hand, Clay Hunt died on March 31, 2011.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real.  It takes the lives of young people damaged by destructive pain that allows no rest, no peace.

I offer my sincere sympathy to Clay Hunt’s family, friends and fellow veterans.  May each of you find some measure of rest and peace as you struggle to accept the tragic ending of this young man’s life.


One To Eternity

That is my scale of importance.  It ranks close to the 15 minute rule in darker moments.  Something happens to rattle my calm and I need to find a buffer.  Enter the One-To-Eternity Rule.

Sarah Palin accuses the president of expecting Americans to sit-down-and-shut-up.  Questioned further about the source of her statement, she stumbled into a  remark about his condescending general persona, excusing her spin on the truth.

The Olympic silver medalist, Evgeni Plushenko, castigates the judges for awarding gold to  Evan Lysacek, a man who cannot execute the quad saying that a quad-less routine is not a sport but merely dancing.   Later, Bob Costas interviewed Evan Lysacek.  Lysacek was a gentleman refusing to take the bait of Costas reading Plushenko’s whine.

Scotty Lago won the bronze in half-pipe and posted questionable photographs of himself on the internet.  Doesn’t that qualify for some sort of annoyingly dumb award?

Back to my scale.  In true and valued importance these incidents rank on the single digit side, counting just a smidge more than a golfer who believed that skill and money gave him license to dismiss the rules of integrity.

The macro and micro world are racked by things that matter.  Haiti and the struggles of her people to eat and sleep in safety, to find jobs to earn what  replacements for moments of destruction.

Creeping nastiness in the world of politics and government, a nastiness that gives ordinary citizen a need to forget civil discourse in favor of personal attack.

A world economy that widens a rift between blue-collar struggles and white-collar comfort.

“Need work.  Ask for my resume.”  The new sign of the street corner times, replacing the, “Hungry, please help.”

Forty-five applicants for every available job on a government site.

A Man I Know taking the passenger seat from his car so he can replace it with plywood and pillow…his new home without a home.

A teenage boy will be tried as an adult for stabbing his cousin, killing her for teasing him.

The scale is tipped beyond balance.  These are matters for eternity.

The PBS NEWSHOUR’S Jim Lehrer and Ray Suarez

Snippets and Snap Shots

Sunday is a sorting day, a time to look at the week’s collection of snippets and snap shots aided by a long walk in the cold and snow.

Jim Lehrer was interviewing Ray Suarez.  Mr. Suarez had returned from Haiti and the two men were discussing the experience.   A barely audible, “Ah, Ray” followed a poignant description of the conditions in the sheet-cities that are home to thousands of Haitians.  The voice of honest compassion, a reaction to both the horrible conditions in Haiti and to the wrenching experience  shared from one friend to another.

I Still Know That Man.  Not long ago, I wrote about him,  his generous heart and his ‘take’ on life.  This man has been job hunting for over 6 months.  He, like many others, is in a precarious situation.    His two old cars vie for running rights and he keeps them operating through repeating problems.    A very young neighbor, the father of a new-born, also struggles with the economy.  This neighbor recently asked if he could buy one of the cars, knowing that the asking price would be within his budget.   This is not the time for The Man I Know to sell because he needs to know that one of those cars will get him to job interviews.   But as he processes his plans, he has made a decision.  Once he gets a job, he plans to give the car to the young neighbor.  Not sell–give.   “What is your neighbor’s name?”, I asked during our conversation.   “Heck.  I don’t know, I just know he needs a car.”

Two very extraordinary snapshots from an ordinary February week.  My life has been enriched.

Janette Samfour Rescued In Haiti

Distractedly attempting to quilt while watching The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.  Biting back mean-spirited thoughts about the economy  and the Massachusetts Senate race.   Hoping that, for this hour, pros and cons about body scans at the airport would not be featured.  Grumpy with weather, lack of real exercise and unwilling to listen to spin stories, I prepared to be annoyed.

And then I saw the man’s face.  Roger Samfour walked, stumbled and crawled over concrete slabs, wires, choking dust— and he listened.  Days after the bank building collapsed, he still searched and listened for his wife’s voice.

A sound, not a voice, but a sound from deep under the tons of earthquake rubble.

Everything stopped.  Again the sound.

“Janette.  Janette!”  The man was on his knees frantic to hear more.  Despair at what surrounded this tiny hole.  Panic at the possibilities ahead.  Hope.  Hope that his beloved was here.

She was.  Janette Samfour was alive.  After days without food, water, tombed in darkness Janette was alive. Roger’s hands plunged into the rock and wire.

Larger slabs moved, a camera  lowered.  We saw her face, her beautiful face, not marked with panic but simply waiting for rescue.  Words of love, husband and wife love, called to one another.

With her hand held fast between slabs,  Janette faced more pain as the rescue continued.  The tape must have been edited for time, but within the minutes allotted, we watched a miracle.  Dedicated and courageous rescue workers moved a shattered building to save this life.  When asked if she had believed she would be saved, she answered, “Of course.  Why not?”  But the most beautiful miracle was in a new  sound that took my sobbing breath.   Janette began to sing.  Yes, sing!

The voice of correspondent Bill Neely told us that it was a song about death, about not being afraid of death.  Janette sang while Roger touched her face, over and over and over.

Watching a miracle cleanses the heart.

Standing Tall–America The Beautiful

American The Beautiful….and crowned thy good with brotherhood…sea to shining sea.

Music of spacious skies, amber waves and purple mountains sings the majesty of the physical beauty.

The deeper beauty rests in the American people, a people of a brotherhood accepting few limitations.  Americans are a people  steeped in the tradition of offering help, caring for others, realizing a need and providing.

Pat Robertson reportedly sees the crushing sadness of Haiti as the result of some work of the devil.  Rush Limbaugh reportedly sees that same sadness a political opportunity.   I have neither their fame nor their bully pulpit, but I see Haiti as human tragedy requiring the best of American support.   Neither of these men speak to that best.

The BEST of American has rallied food, medicine, human power, organization with all possible dispatch.   The BEST of American bypasses ‘agendas’ in favor of  compassion.   The BEST of American rests in our people and our belief in core deep brotherhood.

Find Me A Word

There is no word to describe what is happening in Haiti.  No trite concept touches the obscenity of such human suffering.    Comprehension is impossible.   Photos of retching detail cannot bring the viewer close enough to envelope  the intensity.

Military and civilian rescue workers, men and women on the ground, seem to have the strength of immersion–of blanking out while forging through.   Cannot imagine that courage.

There are those who will eventually say that our mis-use of the planet can explain some of these ‘natural disaster’  horrors.  Is that a backdoor approach to blaming the victim?  I don’t know.

There are others who declare the need for more prayer–prayer for the survivors in Haiti and prayers to divert future obscenity.   So are we garnering the power of the human mind in this prayer?   Or are we directing towards an omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving  Power?

Find me a WORD.