Today - on my day off - I'm washing clothes, washing dishes, organizing, cleaning, planting, entertaining, sweating and more. And griping. Oh yes, I was griping about it.
Then it occurred to me that those clothes I'm washing -- they're ours. Mine and my family's. We own them. They don't belong to my employer or worse yet, my owner. They're unique clothes - chosen to fit and compliment someone in my family. They're not oppressively hot with only a window for the eyes. They're weren't given us because we had none. Even better, they don't bear the stripes of a prison or the Star of a concentration camp. Our clothes. Purchased, worn and washed in freedom.
Those dishes? They're dirty because we have enjoyed meals on them. Simple meals, prepared in love and enjoyed around a table under a watertight roof. The scraps placed in the dog's bowl show how very blessed we are to have not only enough, but more than enough. And we ate at our leisure with utensils and cold or hot drinks. Food served on plates, not out of plastic pouches. We didn't huddle over our food in vain effort to keep out the flying sand or the rain. We dined in freedom because others ate MREs and wished for Mom's cooking.
Cleaning, organizing and planting are tiring work when done for one's own family. Imagine those who clean the mansions of a madman only to return home to squalor. Those who plant and harvest gardens and rice all day, then cradle a starving child at night. Those who cook for thousands of troops until they're too tired to nourish their own body. Those whose organizational duties include getting ammunition, food and other supplies for several platoons from point A to point B -- while being shot at. Imagine if you will having only one thing to clean...your weapon. Feel the burden not lighten from less cleaning responsibilities, but weigh down on shoulders barely out of high school. Shoulders that left wives and children behind in the states. Shoulders that have seen too much war and carried too many bodies. So in freedom I will organize my closet and remember.
Later this evening I will visit with friends. Friends of my own choosing who have seen good times and bad. But not compatriots. Compatriots are thrown together in the very worst of situations and their lives are forever intertwined. Whether they don envelope hats and march in parades or go on to live quiet lives out of the spotlight, on days like today they are never far from one another's mind. In their own gruff way, they love each other. Sometimes they even miss their buddy from their time at Normandy, or in Seoul or Saigon...the Delta, the jungle, on under or over the seas. Some, if not all, will think today of their buddy "Joe" or "Don" or "Rick" who didn't come back. For whom the wail of Taps echoed off the headstones of those gone on before. I'll think of "Joe" today as I sit - a free woman - and sip iced tea with friends.
And then, later, in a quiet time and a quiet place I'll speak the prayer my heart has been murmering all day long, "Oh God...thank you for the GIJoes and Janes who have given all that I may live in freedom. Thank you God that even today someone fights not only to ensure my continued freedom but to enable someone who hasn't known freedom the chance to breath it's fresh, clean air. Thank you God especially for those Joes and Janes who are serving Your higher calling. Those who, even as they obey the orders of men are praying for those still in bondage. Give them strength today and always Lord."