It was a normal, every day Wednesday.
The water was bubbling on the stove;
the flag flapped and snapped outside the window;
and the only sound that could be heard was the swish smack of the knife against the potato skin I was peeling.
It had been a quiet and busy day. It was a hidden day. I have been learning to come to terms with this- living in each quiet, quotidian moment, letting it pass by, noticed only by me. It would be hard to explain what I do each day- other than keep my family world spinning- wiping noses and bottoms, teaching concepts, endless loads of laundry, swept floors. Outside my tiny spot on the wide green earth, no one really knows if I do these things, or do them well- and perhaps, it does not matter in the grand scheme of things. I know that it matters whether or not anyone is looking. And it matters whether or not anyone notices and praises me for it. My thanks lie many years down the road, and I am learning to accept that, and joyfully…
It was two days after Memorial Day. Thoughts of Capt. James Howell, his sweet wife, Stephanie, of his two daughters, Harper and Sadie, and the joyful news of twins that they had just received, circled and vied for attention. So too, the lives of the eight men of his company that never returned home from the tip of the spear in Afghanistan last year walked in lockstep through my head, faceless but not forgotten. I breathe a prayer for him and his company as I slice another potato- each morning, his name is one that is whispered heavenward as soon as I can remember. As the skin falls from the potato, I try to let the fear fall as well- for him. For her. For their children. I want, more than anything, for Jimmy to come home, safe and whole. I flinch when I hear of casualties in Afghanistan- I can no sooner imagine how Stephanie feels than what it is like to walk on the moon. Jimmy’s courage and conviction, his integrity- it shines. It shines through Stephanie. His love for her makes her glow luminescent, even on the toughest of days when she is clinging to God and begging that the words she hears are not touching him…
Before I know it, my vision blurs as I am undone by my thoughts of the Howell family. I lay down the knife and stare out at the flag, snapping smartly in the wind…at the emerald green hills and valleys that stretch endlessly away from my window, hardly touched by human hands…
I think of Mr.Chen.
I think of all the brokeness in the world, and of all the men and women who go out into the breach everyday, to stand in the gap- to bind up the broken places, to stand firm. They all, in their own way, stand against danger, within or without- often at great personal cost of their own. All the faceless people who have suddenly come into sharp focus for a broken one, when they were there in the deepest hour of need.
What then shall I do?
I profoundly understand that this is the season for me to be small and hidden, tucked away in the hills of an Appalachian afternoon. It is not for me to run to the breach, to stand on the front lines of warfare, spiritual, mental, emotional. But I can pray. And I can live. I can live my life in honor of those who are, known, or unknown, preserving my own. I can live my life in honor of the One who gave His life. He deserves nothing less. They deserve nothing less. It is enough for me to stand here at my post at the kitchen sink, hidden and unknown. These blessings are mine because of them. To foul them with bitterness, discouragement, and complaining seems a little less than honorable.