On May 28, 2004, while I was working in Afghanistan, a bullet forever changed my life.
As part of my therapy, I was asked to write a poem showcasing the highlights of my career.
This is the result of that exercise:
The LORD is My Shepherd
I watch the Sun rise over the Mojave Desert before she begins her torture. I dig into ancient seabed with hot metal and bare hands.
I sweat and hump a rucksack up and down the mountains of Central America. I receive Baptism in her clear streams and dig deep in her earth.
I climb the Tae-bek Mountains in Korea and peer into the Demilitarized Zone. There, where the men Stand Alone.
I welcome the Rising Sun of Japan awakening in the Pacific and watch her sleep again in the Yellow Sea.
In the dark, I silently marvel at the Southern Cross in the Australian sky.
I witness paralyzed the rising and falling of machetes in Haiti amid the great screaming of the multitude. I watch from a distance Voodoo Bokers invoke Unclean Spirits and loose them into the night.
I observe the teeming crowd part like the Red Sea for the naked and shambling Zumbe’ walking out her emaciated Living Death.
She doesn’t see me.
She sees no one.
I see her and my jaw hangs open.
There, on Death’s Island, in the Heart of Darkness, the Lord carries me.
I freeze all alone in Alaska beneath Denali’s Brow and the coldness of the Moon. Death is only a few sweet minutes of sleep away. The Lord lifts me to my feet.
I ponder the Aurora Borealis as it plays over the black and white Canadian night. The Lord’s Voice tells me to “Stop” and wait for just one moment, and I am saved.
I swim the tepid and oily waters of the Persian Gulf.
I drive past the Ziggurat of Ur listening to airstrikes on the radio.
In the land of the Chaldeans
In the land of Abraham
I stand on the banks of the River Euphrates and wash my hot feet in the Tigris.
Babylon the Great is on fire.
Columns of smoke reach toward Heaven like angry fingers.
I lay down my submachine gun on the roof of the Palace of the Ruler of Babylon.
I face Jerusalem and pray like an exile The Lord delights me with visions of lambs following their gentle shepherd through the green pastures of Kurdistan.
There, East of Eden, with Nineveh on the horizon, in the belly of Assyria. His Righteous Right Hand preserves me.
Yet the Sun tortures.
I pump my legs up the Hindu Kush and gasp for breath at the footstool of the Himalayas.
I stand as ruler’s guardsman in another palace in another kingdom in another war.
The Right Hand of the Father deflects the bullet from my Mortal Vein. As He corrects it’s path, it forever corrects mine.
God dwells in that intersection of bone and metal and pain and space and time.
I plead to Him under the thin blue sky of Afghanistan and bleed into her sand.
He hears me.
He sees me.
There, where Alexander was halted. There, in the Graveyard of Armies.
I slip into coma as the Sun goes down on me and I lose her light. But in the Dark, He is there and shows me many things.
I awaken to the tearful kisses of the Wife of my youth and the embrace of my children.
I am home. The Sun also rises…
Because He lives, I live. Because He walks with me, I still walk the Earth.
The Lord is my Shepherd…I shall not want. He restores my soul…for His Name’s Sake.
Surely Goodness and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord
This is really hard.
Having to carve this out up here, out of essentially nothing, it’s a lot harder than I thought it’d be. On the Raising Wild TV show I said that I wanted to be 100% self-sustaining by Winter. Well, it’s the second winter, and we’re nowhere near that. But we’ve made a start. We’ve made a start, and I’ve sunk everything into this – all my money, all my… my future. It’s a lot harder than it looks. (And it looks pretty hard.) Having to do this every day, and taking care of animals, and negotiating the back roads in winter time. That’s very difficult for anybody living out here.
There’s a homesteading movement happening.
…and I think that’s a good thing. I think that people are yearning for a simpler life out of a city environment, out of an environment where all you see around you is just man made structures blocking out the sun. Noise, cars, and throngs of people, all with our own agendas that we have to accomplish every day. I think people want to come out here and kinda start over. They want peace and quiet. They want to do things themselves. They want to learn things themselves, and put them into practice in their own little private laboratories on all these homesteads out here. And this homesteading movement’s not going to stop. I think it has real strength to it, because it’s a worthwhile thing.
Just off the top of my head, if I were to offer you any advice on how to go from suburbia or the city to a place you’ve always dreamed of, I’d say the first thing I would do is
Stop buying shiny stuff.
Stop buying gadgets and attractive things that you don’t need. It’s designed simply to remove money from your wallet. Buy things that are useful: generators, tools, vehicles – dependable vehicles – these things are real items. These things are durable items. And they’ll have a purpose other than just our own entertainment. The second thing I would say is…
Just start nibbling at it.
Find a place on the map you want to move to. If you already have a place, just start focusing on that. Turn your heart in that direction, and then just start going up to it and working on the land. Plot out where you want to put a house. Have someone plot out where you should drill a well. But get started. Get started now.
2020 is a momentous year.
There’s a lot of changes going to be happening this year. It’s a critical change in American politics and society converging on one spot in time. Be prepared. Be prepared for the day, not for the end of the world, but be prepared for the day. Live each day deliberately. If you have to do something, do it with gusto. Do it with strength from a position of power. And then, when you’ve done your obligations, and you’ve performed your due diligence, sit back and relax. Have a day off.
All of this is accomplishable.
It’s hard, but it’s doable. And if I had the same, the equivalency of cash, of what this is all worth, it’d be gone in two years. Proverbs says that riches make themselves wings and fly away. And that’s absolutely right; you drink it up, you eat it up, you spend it up, and in the end you don’t have anything. This is land. This is mine. It’s paid for. The taxes are current. It is something I can give to my children. And what they do with it is up to them. But if I don’t start, if I don’t put a shovel in the dirt, if I don’t maintain this, then there’s nothing to give them.
It’s going to be a good day.
It’s supposed to snow all day, but it’s warm – 33 degrees right now – and that’s good for the animals.