Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cowards and Kings


I know a man who lived through one.  It is hard to hear his words.  He sits on the edge of the bed and describes the scene. The carnage. Long pauses between recollections, the mind’s digital display a reckless mess, impossible to share.
Senses overloaded beyond repair. 

He tells me…he will always know the smell of C-4, the echo of end-of-life screams, the white-out of the blast, the grease of blood on fragments of limbs, the metallic taste of a bit-through tongue.   He has no ears left to hear…bionic replacements capture sound for him.  He has eyes unscarred from a random purchase of designer shades. His nose has been rebuilt over and over again. He has a few fingers left to touch, but skin more scarred than unscathed on a body burned from head to toe.  He knows the softness of newly grafted skin; the hardness of scar tissue over bone. He knows sour and he knows sweet.

He can tell you what an explosion does to you on the outside.  And he can tell you what an explosion does to you on the inside.  He can describe panic like a tsunami in your blood vessels. He can utter the incantations of grief. He can explain what it means to register fear with the delivery of a package, a bundle, a backpack.  He can wince at a loud noise, an unexpected backfire, fireworks.  Yet he can demonstrate what it means to live fearlessly, with a clear understanding of the grace that can grow out of mayhem.

He has met the coward and he has met the King.  He would tell us to pray right now, where ever we are, whenever we can. Because prayer changes us. Prayer changed him, and it changes me.  Prayer tells God that we need Him more every hour...every day.

And he will tell you that today is all we have.  It’s all we know.  This.

A vapor. A moment. A speck.

And he can explain that everything depends upon what we do with this millisecond of eternity, this wheelbarrow of time that we’re given.

Do we love well and kindly?

Do we share bold good news?

Do we embrace beauty and reject evil?

Do we touch, taste, hear, smell, and see His goodness?

Do we pray to a Listener who cannot be blown up, who cannot be blown away?

Do we know Him?

Do I?

Do you…