Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Fred Rogers from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood fame said that his version of graciousness and meeting the deeper needs of others is "loving someone into existence."  I know that feeling.  I hope that you let those words enter your heart and become absorbed.

Is there someone you need to 'love into existence?"

We all need to know we are loved and capable of loving.  But are we able to receive love? Have we been hurt so many times that we are afraid of suffering the pain of it's loss once more, or do we feel we are not worthy of being loved for some reason or another, or is it simply that we don't know how to be loved? And if we don't know how to be loved then why?

There is self-serving love, and then there is true love, unconditional, and nonjudgemental love.  Loving someone can be hard.  But how can you love someone who doesn't know how to be loved?   How do you 'love someone into existence?'   

Being loved is a blessing, a gift, an opportunity. Sure it takes courage.  Storms will come and clouds will loom.  And sometimes you feel as if you are adrift in a sea of uncertainty.  It is in these times you call upon your reserves in the tide of despair and search for the promise of sunshine. 

I had one wounded Marine that was at BAMC for over a year and a half, healing.  But each week watching him move past pain, frustration, and anger, he slowly emerged from his cocoon and began helping complete strangers - his 'brothers'- with their issues.  

Jonathan adored Gracie, and he was one of her favorites. He loved to shout to me across the courtyard  at the Fisher House, “Hey Boomer!” I would shout back, “Hey Sooner!” You might guess that both of us are proud graduates of Oklahoma University. This, as you might expect, is not something to cry out in Texas, but nonetheless Jonathan and I did so proudly. And in reality, I figured he would protect me if it got violent!  

On Saturdays when he knew Gracie and I were to be there he would always wear his OU t-shirt. He had been married in March, deployed in April and wounded the same month. Then his wife filed for divorce. This Marine exemplifies “Always faithful. – Semper Fi.” He actually celebrates his injury. When I asked if any of his buddies had been injured he said, “No, if they had of been, I would have had to burn the town down.” We had talked for a while, before he excused himself to go buy ‘his guys’ in Iraq some ‘fun stuff.’

Our soldiers are forced to deny their emotions in order to survive. True it helps them survive the war, but in the long run this can have some devastating consequences. This emotional denial can cause delayed stress syndrome.

I was forced as a child to deny what was happening in my own home and deny my feelings about it. Not being lovable to my own parents, I have never felt truly loveable to anyone. Today I feel the feelings; I change my perspective and follow my gut reactions. I have changed the dance of my life from one of endurance and struggling to one of celebration and healing. It is a conscious daily decision, and one I am not always able to swallow.  I guess you can say that I have had to 'love myself into existence.'

One extraordinary day with Jonathan I heard words that vibrated in my heart and that were felt  in my soul. I found that I was vindicated, my meaning justified, and I finally felt fully alive. For a good while I have known my purpose or ministry. But sitting in the Barracks with Jonathan on one cool, humid and dreary morning, I knew for certain.

A group of volunteers were breaking down tables from a  breakfast they had just served to the wounded soldiers. I had parked close by to run in for a quick meeting with the managers. Kelsie was with me, being the perfect catalyst to provide a light for whoever might need it.

As the room cleared, I saw Jonathan. I remembered seeing him in the worst and best of times. Today, one of the best times, found him sitting in his wheelchair, talking with another soldier. Kelsie and I approached and instantly saw that his friend had a contagious brilliant smile, that I soon discovered hid  overwhelming burdens and frustrations.

I hugged Jonathan and kissed him on the cheek. With his disarming smile he said, “How are my girls?” I told him how good he looked and then he introduced me to Jesse. I extended my hand and found that Jesse had to struggle to move his arm, and grimaced in pain, as he did so. His hand, he told me 'didn’t work.’ I told him that was a good excuse for a hug.  He smiled.

It was obvious that my Marine was solely focused on his conversation with Jesse. I sat down and  made myself invisible, for it was obvious that this was their time. Jonathan never stopped petting Kelsie on the head and neck, as he and Jesse talked. Jesse, holding his beret upside down with an unopened bottle of 7-UP in it, said “I didn’t sign on for this. I’ve been here for 45 days. I didn’t sign on to be here. I want to be in Iraq with my guys. I want out of here.” Jonathan kindly, firmly, and full of the confidence that he exudes told him, “You are here. You are here to heal. Get used to it. Deal with it. You can’t go anywhere until you are better. You can’t be of use to anyone until you are better. You may have to be here for a year or more. Yes, each day is a struggle, but you can do it.”

It was then the words appeared out of nowhere!  Jonathan turned and looked at me and said, “And just when you think you can't do it anymore.....then she is here.” Sometimes stringing words together is easy. Sometimes there are no words. Sometimes words are only a feeling in your heart. I heard the words said, but even today it takes a while to understand the depth and intensity of them. And it is doubly hard to write what they meant and mean to me. Let me just say that I most likely will never hear words that touched me like these did.

I handed Jesse my business card and whispered in his ear, ‘This is part of the journey, not the destination. You be an inspiration. He simply responded, “I will try.”

Next time someone asks me how I do what I do, or why I do what I do, I will know the answer.

It isn’t important that they understand. What is important is that I understand. I am where I belong.  I am blessed, humbled, and grateful in the presence of these young men and women who support each other whenever and however necessary. The very least any of us can do is support them in return.

And yes, I do and will continue to do, everything in my power to 'love them into existence.'

"In my wildest dreams, you always play the hero. In my darkest hour of night, you rescue me, you save my life."

--Bliss and Cerney

The only true gift is a portion of yourself."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's so easy, To think about Love, To Talk about Love, To wish for Love, But it's not always easy, To recognize Love, Even when we hold it.... In our hands."

"Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction."
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
--Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 "There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved."
--George Sand


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