Religion column: Simply put

Published 7:00 am Saturday, October 21, 2017

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

As the door slowly opened, the timeworn mother heard her eldest daughter enter the room. It had not been a good day. Earlier that morning, the news had come that James, the middle child serving in Afghanistan, had been air-evaced to a hospital in Ramstein, Germany. The initial news was grim: a roadside bomb had demolished their Humvee, killed one soldier and injured three. This was all the family knew.

“Mom,” asked Rene, seeing the tear stained cheeks, how are you?” With halting words, Janette replied, “I am a bit better, but this all seems like such a nightmare.”  After placing a consoling hand on her mother’s shoulder, they each soon held each other; shedding the necessary tears for the unknown.

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When asked about her father, Rene related that he was on the living room couch. and was agonizingly watching the clock’s ponderous progress, and waiting, just waiting for some good news from someone, or somewhere. They knew James was hurt and, perhaps, would not be the same as before. Yet, all they sought was his return to their loving arms.

Almost theatrically, the telephone’s ring broke the tension, but only increased the communal dread in the short moments before both parents simultaneously  picked up the phone. In unison, each said a plaintive, “Hello…?” After the Army Colonel identified himself, and knew who he was talking with, he told them to “take a deep breath and relax.” Yes, James was injured in the bombing, but was taken to Germany with a concussion, hearing loss and a bad gash on his leg,” as the Colonel added, “for what he has been through, he is in remarkable shape.”

He continued, “I have met with him and asked him what has gotten him through all of this.

James told me his fellow soldiers, his family, and knowing that God is with him. Simply put: you should know that you have done a great job with your son, and should be proud of him. Look forward to a call from him, in a day or so.”

Gently pressing the ‘off’ buttons on their phones, the family soon met in the living room and sought solace in each other’s embrace. Initially, few words were said, as the decompression from the portents of darkness evaporated with the rising dawn of truth.

Of course, they were concerned about their son, but knew that they would be there to support him, no matter what the challenges were.

The following morning, the phone rang and it was “Jimmy.” You could almost hear the collective exhalation of all who knew and loved him.

“Mom, Dad, here is what is going on. They tell me the concussion effects will diminish over time, my hearing will improve and the gash I have on my leg will not cause me trouble. Simply put, by the grace of God, I will be OK.”

“Simply put.” We have heard the same expression from the Army Colonel and James, the injured soldier.

Each, in his own way has diluted the very complex, into the essentials of the situation.

In true military fashion, we learn of this necessity of brevity, without enhancement, nonsense, or excuses.

James credited his survival on others, than himself. He firmly knew that God was in charge and it was the foundation upon which placed his resolve for betterment; upon a higher power than his buddies, or even his family.

Yes, bad things happen. Simply put, we unnecessarily complicate our lives, when we place ourselves above, others, and our Creator, and ignore His salving message to us. It is through His strength that we too are strong.