Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Global War Against Groundhog Day

It could be called several very appropriate names. The most popular of which is unquestionably, "The Global War On Terrorism" or GWOT. It's a good name. After all, we are here to fight terror. Peace loving people from many nations are dead because of terror. And the goal is to defeat the scourge of terror around the world. It's a good name and a good goal.

It could also be called "Groundhog Day". Each day is a near carbon copy of the day before. In fact, it can be outright boring. Sure there are the occasional heart-stopping experiences that seem to come out of nowhere, but the mundane, everyday stuff is nothing to write home about.

We are sleeping in 8 man "B-Huts" that are not unlike your grandfathers tool shed, except without the tools or the accompanying yard. Plywood and bunk beds round out the decor. Privacy is the rarest of commodities. However, when you exit your living quarters, the drabness of plain plywood gives way to a sight right out of a movie, if that movie were titled, "The Day The Earth Turned Brown". Man is it brown. The dirt is something of a light mocha color, like the perfect cup of rich, dark coffee destroyed by a touch of milk. And to ensure that depth perception is next to impossible, the Department of Defense Hue Equivalence Team has developed an exterior paint that perfectly matches the dirt. It is the most impressive display of chemistry in action that I think I've ever witnessed.

In stark contrast to the extreme brownness of the world outside is the little dabs of color and life God puts on display. This morning, as I languished in my 8-man den of public non-privacy, I happened upon the smell of coffee. One of the guys in my room had brewed a fresh pot of coffee and man did it smell good. Side note here, the coffee was actually Starbucks that was donated to the American Red Cross and handed out to the troops. Wow, was that a nice smell to wake to. So I got up, grabbed a cup and headed out the door to enjoy the morning air and the fresh coffee. It was relatively quiet and there was a light rain coming down. Not the soggy type, but the kind that makes everything smell damp. It was actually quite lovely. Some things, like the smell of morning, are the same around the world (except in Korea of course). Just beyond the front door of our B-hut is a wall made out of Hesco Barriers which are essentially 6 x 6 x 6 foot sand bags. So we have what amounts to a large, 12 foot wall of very brown paint-colored dirt just outside. As we sat and talked and enjoyed that beautiful cup of Joe, I noticed something. There atop the brown wall, silhouetted in a dusty brown sky was a single, scarlet flower. It stood out like a lit match in a dark closet (not that I ever lit any matches in the closet, mind you. It's just a metaphor...or simile...or metaphor). The thing is that one flower had the potential to become a whole acre of flowers, given the right growing conditions.

Here is where reality punched me right in the face. We are fighting a fight against an enemy that is all around us but so blended in that you can't see him. But despite the violence and hatred, a seed of freedom has been planted and watered by the scarlet blood of combatants and non-combatants alike. And given the right conditions it will eventually become a huge field of color where only drab brown reigned before.

When that happens, look out, 'cause a whole bunch of tired GI's are coming home.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful metaphor...or simile...or whatever. Thanks for being there.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Chaplain, are you ever some writer! I've sifted through quite a number of blogs and yours is indisputably one of the very best! It has quite a bit to do with your fine command of the English language, your Godliness, your intellect, and your keen sense of humor. I always enjoy reading it.

God bless you all and keep you safe.

GenGap said...

I don't drink coffee and frankly, I think it's pretty nasty stuff, but you almost made me want to start drinking it. Very impressive writing, I was very touched and very grateful for the men and women who endure.

john b. said...

I am also an officer serving in Iraq. The other day I was talking to a fellow officer and we were also noting the "Groundhog's Day" quality of being here. A LTC over heard our conversation and interjected. "You know, Groundhog's Day is a very spiritual movie", he said. Having never thought of it that way, we inquired what he meant. He went on to explain that the Bill Murray character, when initiatially given the oppurtunity to relive the same day over and over, tries to use it for self gratification and is eventually driven to despare and suicide. Then he has an epiphany and begins to live the same day over and over in the service of others. Not only does he find emence fullfillment, but he is rewarded with what his heart really desired - the love of Andie MacDowell's character. His genuine love for her (they don't have sex, unusually for a movie)breaks the Groundhog's Day curse. So then the LTC encouraged us that we feel caught in a "Groundhog's Day", to use it to notice the little things that we wouldn't notice otherwise, work to prefect our innerselves and brighten the lives of those around us like Bill Murray did.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your posts for some time. It feels like years. Some of your posts have brought a chuckle, some a tear. This post however, touched some where deeper. God Bless.
Mom of a Soldier in the US Army

Anonymous said...

The human spirit is like the little red flower. It will bloom and survive in the most delosate conditions. God Bless you all and come home safe. One of the people you are protecting. Thank you...

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