Veterans

Lunch today with my veterans, sharing soup and sacred stories. Some call it camaraderie; we’ve taken the vow and done our duty to the land of our birth.  The years have treated us kindly, but we know that many have not been as blessed. So we began by praying for those  who struggle still with a past that grips them in its siren song.

Above the Battle

Wayward warrior, far from comrades,

Battered, beaten, calloused, weary,

Comes upon a hermit sitting

By earthen hut,

With mule beside him.

“True child of Nature,”

The soldier thought,

Simple life that welcomed all.

Man of war received as kinfolk

High upon the alpine meadow.

Combat raging far below

As armies clashed in hellish conflict,

Hatred boiling, devils’ cauldron,

Darker than the coals of Hades.

Old man pointed to the tumult,

Could not share the tongue of warrior,

Only gestures of confusion,

Silent protest of the thunder.

Dawning on the soul of Warrior,

“Recluse here on highest mountain

Has no sense of worldwide horror

Brought by those who hold the mantle

Of power ruined and kingdoms broken.”

Hero spoke to inner chambers

Of heart perturbed by senseless slaughter,

“Had sage and I the mother tongue

To speak and hear in one accord,

Neither could with greatest effort

Understand the cause of carnage

Down below in bloody valley.”

And so it is, the “Why” of war

Remains a mystery for all ages,

As questions asked of kings and statesmen

Stay unanswered to the end.