Friday, November 15, 2013


I love garden gates.  I love the not knowing what is behind them.  I love the secret of what stands beyond.  I love the anticipation. 

It is like a new day opening each morning.  What will the day bring?  What if I open a new door?  What will I find?

"A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy." ! Luis Barragan

Perhaps it not unlike going through a garden gate to our warriors, as they reach out to take a leash and a dog attached to that leash and opening a door to a future they never imagined would come to fruition. A life beyond the hell endured.  A life where they learned they were not defeated and deep down inside they believe that just perhaps they 'can.' They can go on.  They can take that next step.  They can hold onto the leash and return to living the life they always dreamed of living.  A life they fought for so that those of us at home can live in peace.  They have fought so that we can pursue our careers, our lives, our passions with never a thought of their own. 

But once home, life isn't the same.  The hyper vigilance consumes them and they can't let go.  But when they take that leash and on step at a time venture out into the world they fought for, little by little, they come back to us...they come back home...they can open that gate and find love, and peace and that the best, and perhaps only way out of a problem, out of hell, is through it.

As I type this, my golden lab/retriever has laid her head on my lap. I type one handed so that I may pet her and stroke her fur and listen to her softly breathe and sigh occasionally.  It is as if she knows I am struggling for the right words...the words to encourage, to inspire, to motivate and to drown out the horrifying thoughts that consume so many of our warriors when they return home from war. I want to help them, guide them, and walk with them through the gate to a world free from the torment  as they return to a land they helped protect.

Sometimes we are invited to act.  To move forward and away from.  It is turbulence.  It is a time of self renewal and a time of learning to let go!  We are all given second chances every day but seldom do we take them.  It is scary, hard and lonely. People don't understand or are too preoccupied with their own lives to care.

"Sadness flies on the wings of the morning, and out of the heart of darkness comes the light."
~ Jean Giraudoux
So to our warriors and their dogs this morning I quote Mary Pickford, "Today is a new day.  You will get out of it just what you have put into it...if you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, there is always another chance for you.  And supposing you have tried and failed again and again, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down."

It is no surprise that having your best friend, your dog, your service dog by your side makes this journey not quite so difficult. There are at least a hundred warriors who look me in the eye, with all the care and meaning possible, and tell me that having their service dog by their side has completely 100% changed their lives.  Completely!!!  They have opened that garden gate and found the other side.  And on this other side is a world born anew, a new chance, a new opportunity.  They find that yesterday was a nightmare and tomorrow a vision of hope and that today with their 'battle buddy' by their side there is a peace they thought they had lost forever. They find they are no longer stuck in the hell of war.  Today with their service dog is the beginning of a new life as they go confidently in the direction of their dreams.

"Life only demands from you the strength you possess.  Only one feat is possible ~ not to have run away."  ~ Dag Hammarskjold


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