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