Christmas, 2015

(Reprinted from Facebook status)

December 24 at 11:58pm

It’s Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas, folks!

Last year, I had some musings on Peace. Considering this past year, we seem further away than every. This year, I’d like to post up a small piece of prose. It’s not very Christmassy. Sorry.

A Soldier’s Ache

There once was a man
Born into war
A soldier

His mother was battle
His father, honour
Death was his godparent

War became all he knew
For there was nothing else
It was his family
As familiar as his face
Reflected in his polished shield.

After many years, one day, the soldier felt an ache
Deep in his heart
Unfamiliar, yet somehow, not unfamiliar
He could not figure out what it was.

He went to his mother, battle, and asked her
“What is this feeling in my heart? An ache, like never before?”
“Anticipation!” his mother replied.
“You long for the next fight. The next campaign.
The next victory!”

He left his mother, beaming in her pride
To speak to his father, honour.
“Hail, Father. It is I, your son.” he said as he approached.
“Ah, my son! Sweet and honourable son!” his father smiled upon him.
His father smiled little. Honour was such a somber affair.

“I have an ache in my heart. I asked my mother what it might be
And she said it was Anticipation, for the next campaign, for the next victory.”
At the thought of the soldier’s mother, his father looked momentarily dreamy,
And a smile again flitted across his face.

“Your mother is a creature of the mind. All strategy and fervor;
she knows not of the heart.
That ache is Duty.
You long to perform the services to which you’ve committed your life.
Only then will that ache fade, it will be quenched only by sacrifice.”

The soldier saluted his father,
and went to see his godparent, Death.
“Hello, uncle. It is I, your godchild.”
“Hello, godchild,” Death was irascible, but not unkind.
“Will you be staying long this time?”
“No, uncle, not this time.” the soldier did not fear his uncle,
But he was in no rush to join him.

“I have an ache in my heart, and I don’t know what it is,
though it feels like I should know it. Unfamiliar, yet familiar.
Mother says that it is Anticipation for the coming war.
Father says that it is Duty, quenched only by sacrifice.
I have known Anticipation, but this is not it.
I have done my Duty, sacrifice upon sacrifice. This, too, is not it.

Many men have met you, uncle, and those who have not met you, will.
You must know what is in men’s hearts. What is this ache?”
Death smiled, but not the warm smile of honour.
A sad smile, as if remembering a happy time, now lost.

Death’s eyes softened as he beheld the soldier,
His normally-hard expression now a mix of sorrow and sympathy.
“That ache is not Anticipation for battle, nor is it Duty, for honour.
It is Desire.

It is a yearning for what you do not have…can’t have…as a soldier.
It is a yearning for peace.
Not the peace between battles.
Not the peace found after war,
when medals are given, and songs of praise are written and sung.

But the peace of a life where your days are filled with love
and your home is the bastion of your family.
Where your enemy is a rainy day,
And the sounds of battle are naught but children’s laughter.
And Duty is reserved for promises to be home soon
when circumstances take you away.”

The soldier looked puzzled
but he found his heart ached even more after Death’s description.
“How do I end this ache,” he asked.
Death shook his head
“It will not end, until you stop being a soldier and pursue the Desire to it’s fulfillment.”

The soldier thought for a moment
“What if I do both? Remain a soldier and pursue the Desire?”
Death chuckled.
“You can do this, but be aware:

Your mother will always call to you,
and even if you choose to ignore her,
your father will always call upon you.
And when you answer to him, he will send you to your mother
While telling you that your Duty is to your family, that you are doing it for them.

I’ve known your father a long time.
He believes that Death and Honour go hand-in-hand.
That the only good death is an honourable one.
As many who have visited me in honour, as many more have visited me in disgrace.
My house is the last stop on every man’s journey, no matter how he lived.”

The soldier asked
“Is there no other way?”
Death faltered, because though he was Death
He loved his godchild, and did not wish him ill.
“You can live with the Desire, and one day, you, too, will visit me.
But even then, that Desire, unfulfilled, will turn to melancholy.
You will not find the peace of the grave as fulfilling as a life of peace.”

The soldier, whose mother was battle
and whose father was honour
thanked his uncle, then turned
And walked away from Death’s door,
An ache in his heart.

Christmas, 2014

(Reprinted from Facebook status)
December 20, 2014

Tomorrow I will be joining Genevieve, Kayleigh and Marge in Atlanta, where they are now visiting Gen’s sister and her family. I usually use this space as a forum for amusing things that happen in our lives. I may not get a chance before Christmas, so for this post, I have something different in mind.

Today I was thinking about the state of the world and all the religions that exist and I was wondering…”what, if anything, do religions, or even people in general, all have in common?” This is what I came up with:

Whether it is delivered by a handshake or by a blessing in the name of a higher power, the message of peace constantly passes from individual to individual no matter how unpeaceful the world at large seems to be. Peace is an ideal that I believe can be shared by everyone, a goal towards which we can all strive, and therefore it is quite possibly the one thing that binds christians, jews, muslims, hindus, buddhists, agnostics, atheists and possibly all other beliefs (and so,in my opinion, this means that anyone who seeks to destroy peace, stating that they are doing it for religious reasons is either lying or believes in the lie preached to them).

I look at the world through a window created for us by news media, the internet and even my job and I see strife, chaos and, in some cases what I can only describe as evil. Then I look at the world immediately around me, and I see so many people being nice…doing good…helping out other people in need. Sometimes it’s a daily act of kindness (nods, Tannis), sometimes it’s a magnanimous gesture, of obvious sacrifice and generosity. It’s in every gift we give, and every gift we receive. These acts, these gestures, these things that we do for each other…we do them so that others can, even for a few moments, enjoy the peace and harmony that comes with receiving a kindness or assistance from another, and whatever our religious differences, peace is the strength of the human spirit, a commonality towards which we can all strive, even with the simplest of gestures. Every can of food in a food bank, every handshake offered in friendship, every “Happy Holiday” offered to friend and stranger brings some measure of peace to this world, and it brings me hope.

My wish on this Christmas (and on every Christmas and every birthday candle I’ve blown out since I was twelve) is peace on this earth, and goodwill towards each and every person on it, starting with all of you, and whether or not you celebrate it or even believe in it, a merry Christmas and peace to all.

Take care,
Tim