From Chains to Spiritual Liberation – A Hero’s Story
Joe was a quiet man just 60 years old. He was a highly decorated veteran from his war days. He was even decorated before the President of the United Sates, yet very few people ever knew. Joe was that kind of man.
All of his days he kept the war in Vietnam in his soul and it weighed heavily in his heart.
All of his days he was ashamed for the human tragedy that occurred in the work that he did in defending his country with honor.
Joe was a farmer, he knew how to grow, cultivate and nurture; he found it strange and it did not sit easily with him to destroy things.
All of his days his heart was heavy with the chains of guilt of that distant time.
By day, Joe was a successful patent design engineer in the auto industry and by night he was “Joe the farmer”. You see Joe came from a farming family and work was just what he did.
For Joe his life could never be deemed a success. In Joe his heart was always heavy.
I was there when he passed away at the VA hospital from the effects of “agent orange”.
I was there when the palliative care chaplain helped Joe come to peace with himself and help Joe understand that it was ok to know that he had had a good life, as family man, an award winning patent engineer, and highly decorated soldier. It was ok for Joe to feel good about himself!
That it was ok for Joe to take off those chains of guilt and sorrow that he had carried around his heart all of his life, and that God would forgive him. Joe you are not a bad man!
People simply could not understand that it was difficult for him to go see young kids who had been hurt and were in hospital or talk about much that was personal.
People simply could not ever fathom that Joe’s soul was tormented all of his days with the flashbacks of a war some 40 years ago.
People simply could not understand that the medals Joe received reminded him not of glory days but days of sadness and the horrific effects of a war that no one seemed to want and war heroes that many turned their backs on.
Joe should have been proud of serving his country in a far of foreign land. No one was there to liberate Joe though, and I saw many others in the same situation when I visited the VA hospital. Strange that we expect and ask much from those that serves others. Where are we for those who serve us?
Joe should not have had to wait until his dying moments to be liberated and to come to his God not knowing that it was ok to ask forgiveness for yourself.
So as I sat quietly, and heard Joe tell the stories he had kept in his heart for so long. I had the privilege to see a man come to peace with himself and to see a man transformed by the gift of the palliative care chaplain prepare Joe for his final journey.
The weight that was lifted from that man showed in the relief in his face. Joe looked strangely younger then the sick man he was.
Coming to terms with your life does that to you. Why did Joe have to wait until then?
I write this homage to Joe and the work of the VA hospitals across the USA and the sacred work of the chaplain who took Joe’s hand and said its ok, you have permission to forgive yourself in the eyes of the Lord.
I wonder though…..
I wonder what more can we do to help all of the “USA Joe’s” who fought for their country and who suffer from pains and terrible images and memories of a long gone war.
I wonder what we have to do to lift those heavy chains from the souls of those gentle folks who simply did what they were asked by their country and help liberate their spirit.
After all liberation is why they were fighting for their country.
Thanks Joe, I am so sorry that we could not have helped you with your pain during your lifetime.
I salute you and all the of men and women who protect and defend the American homeland.
I don’t wonder any more I know there is more to do. Thank you for being the hero you are.
Posted on May 21, 2010, in HRMexplorer Blogs and tagged chains, children, Courage, cultivate, duty, faith, farming, Forgiveness, God, Health, honor, Hospice, inspiration, Life, love, nurture, palliative care, reflection, self reflection, spirituality, United States, war. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.