Make reflection an integral part of construction. Take 5 minutes out of every hour of work to meditate and reflect.
Instead of simply seeing work as getting something done, when we build, something happens inside of us.
The flow of memories is at times overwhelming.
So much churns within the head and out through the mouth like this stream against the rocks in my brain.
I cross over the bridge I built as a young man past unseen construction lost under grass to a former home occupied now by precious others.
Inside the space I turn in circles seeing the work of my hands, overwhelmed by everything past and the beautiful present.
I leave in a rush telling myself I must prepare to sing, past the willow that has finally dropped its branches to the ground after so long a dying.
Up the hill I find that I am running, but I know not what from or where to.
Slowing down, I hear the conversations of community echoing amongst the meadows and the trees.
I begin again to breathe.
Captured by the running blither in my head, I am at a loss of how to stop the chatter, as if the love of others is unacceptable.
Perhaps I have been out of this circle for too long, wondering if who I was remains who I am, fearing that the present manifestation will be rejected.
My eternal monologue of going over in my head everything I have done or said is exhausting simply because of the absence of grace in my inner conversation.
Yesterday was what it was.
If changes need to come then so be it.
But love remains.
My receiving of it is still a difficult thing for me.
He left a young wife and did not return, except on brief furloughs, for four years. My dad, born during that time, wondered who this visiting stranger was.
Rather than destroy, Grandpa, like the many other men in CPS, helped build the infrastructure of this country. They made fences, harvested food, built roads and dams, planted trees, worked in mental hospitals (and as a result helped change the quality of care of mental patients). They gave their sweat, toil, and sometimes, their lives, to care for this land and her people.
His younger brother was killed by a tree at another CPS camp, one of the many casualties that occurred among these men, deaths that are not memorialized in monuments or with parades. Grandpa never recovered from losing his brother or those four years of his life.
When he returned, they called him yellow. How unkind and so very untrue.
Life was never easy for my grandpa, but he was one of the most courageous men I have ever known, willing to face adversity, leave family and community, go against the flow, because his conscience and God forbade him from taking the life of another. His faith was something strong and real. His ultimate allegiance was to the Prince of Peace and to the Kingdom above all nations and kings.
Grandpa passed away in 2011. He will never receive a medal for his service nor would he want one anyway.
But he is the unknown “soldier” I honor on this and every Veteran’s Day.
Originally published here 2012