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A Hard Rain

What do you get when you cross a hippie and a cop? Me.

Yeah, I wish there was a better punch-line, but as I am living this life and trying to understand "me" more, I seem caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of mercy and justice, but not as polarized as one might think.

Maybe I'm thinking this way because I have been listening to my new "protest playlist." A touch of Buffalo Springfield, and sprinkling of Neil Young and Bob Dylan, simmered with James Corbin and Bob Marley. Yeah, feeling that hippie side today.

It's been a good day, even with as incredibly tired as I am. As Austin Powers would put it, "I am spent." I am tap-dancing in the small puddle at the bottom of a well I have been tapping for energy and compassion. I know it's there and it won't run dry, though. And it's the little things that add to it, like this morning when I heard a boisterous cheer emanate from the chapel where, unlocking the door, I found all of our Latvian brothers cheering for their team as they struggled defiantly against the Russian hockey giant. Awesome. And in that cross-cultural moment, I cheered sincerely for another country, as my friends, my brothers cheered for their compatriots. And I saw that we are all just human, men and women who want peace, resolution and to live happy lives. And it energized me.

And later I smiled and waved in acknowledgement of the interpreters' call of "Mullah!" across the FOB. It is their term for their Islamic religious leader in Afghanistan, comparable to Imam in Iraq. And I remember how the beginning of this journey started out on OP Mustang or at COP Keating, when they sought to have chai with me and ask me questions of God, knowing full well that I represented Christianity, and we smiled and laughed and talked about how marriage is very similar throughout the world, and how we all truly believe that He wants us to live in peace with one another. And in those memories I can relate to the pain they feel for having radicals hijack their beliefs for their own means and ends, and televangelists and jihadists don't look altogether too different.

And so here I am typing away, wishing I could pour the flood of feelings and thoughts out on to paper so that as you all wake up this morning; you know exactly where I am at. I find myself having to distract myself before falling asleep at night sometimes, because I can still see the blank stares of my friends before we processed them onto the HLZ for their last flight home. And then I think about how much I want to hold the little hands of my boys, and cry into the nape of my wife's neck like an infant begging for consolation, and what this Independence Day will actually mean for me. And I wouldn't trade any of it, because I am so changed for the better, so alive to the world, so awake to its pain and pleasure. And for the first time in two decades of hearing Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," I understand every word, and term and feeling. And the gospel seems palpably real and pertinent and true and meaningful and necessary. Where hunger is ugly and the souls are forgotten, and I'll tell it, and speak it, and think it and breathe it, and reflect from the mountain so all souls can see, and I'll know my song well before I start singing. And I wonder, when I look my mother and father in the eyes, will they think, "what did you see my blue-eyed son, and where have you been, my darling young one?"

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