Sunday, January 10, 2010
SEEING THE MAGIC
Yesterday I spent from 8:30-4:30 with several of our working therapy dog teams, doing what they do best, being present. This time for three hundred plus deploying Texas National Guard men and women at a Yellow Ribbon event.
The wind was white with a piercing cold, as we left my home at 8:00 am in 10 degrees. In South Texas that is unique and miserible to many, but to me it is was a gift. Any and every day I can give back is always a gift, no matter the circumstances. This morning plants were frozen and frost was on the ground in a winter wonderland, as I left the subdivision and realized the area's sprinkler system had come on and all was covered in the early morning sunlight with sparkling ice.
With two working therapy dogs and four women we left in a caravan. Between us we had three GPS devices and two 'mapquest' printouts to find one hotel. As we approached downtown San Antonio, it became increasingly clear that all three GPS's, as well as the printout, led us in four different directions. At one point I had my GPS in one hand, the printout in the other and my Blackberry cradled in my neck. The chaos that insued isn't pertinent to the story, only somewhat humorous, as an incidental that got four women laughing hysterically. I couldn't help but think of the sterotypical male, lost and never asking for directions. Suffice it to say we somehow managed to find the hotel, set up our table just as the doors opened to hundreds of Texas National Guard troops preparing to leave their homes, their jobs, and families for a year in Iraq/Afghanistan.
As we passed out Pockets of Peace: Words of Encouragement in Challenging Times for our Servicemen and Women books, www.pennysfromheavenfoundation.org , I felt a sense of pride in Penny's From Heaven Foundation and the volunteers and dog teams that were in attendance. They had risen to the occasion and sharing the dogs they have worked with and trained for so long. But somewhere inside I felt my heart crying. I tried to personalize each book distributed, and as I handed it to the troops I thanked them for what they are sacrificing. And not surprisingly, the response was a simple, "No problem."
'No problem', as they prepare to leave 'hearth and home', children, children not yet born, wives to carry on handling family, finances, jobs, and daily struggles alone. They tell me, "Oh no ma'am, thank you for what you do."
This is why I do what I do. How can I not? This is the place where my passion is generated, a place of great compasson, fatigue, and frustration. A place some don't understand or share, but that is okay. They don't have to. Once again what I do isn't about me or my dog or being like everyone else. This is about the soldier and his/her family deploying and in many cases returning with visible and/or invisible wounds.
What and how we choose to honor our freedom is up to us individually. This is the freedom these men and women fight for. I for one will never take their sacrifices for granted, nor will I ever take this country for granted, or take my responsibility toward others for granted. You see I have lived in Korea, with Korean police standing guard outside my apartment door with machine guns protecting their president from a 21 year old American Army wife and a 4 year old baby girl.
I know fear, and I know sacrifices in a place where harmony may never exist. To be blessed to live in a country where just every once in a while, if we are brave enough and strong enough, we will see and feel the magic. And God willing - the love.
"I love seeing these precious beings (our therapy dogs) just do what they do naturally and seeing the magic happen to those around them."
Penny's From Heaven Foundation Volunteer