My Perfect Labyrinth

Have you ever had a time when you just felt in sync with where and what you should be doing? Last weekend was wonderful that way. Don’t get me wrong, it was also exhausting. But, sometimes, the two things can coexist.

We had a board meeting on Saturday for Quaker House. I had worked hard and had two extra reports that represented significant effort and had, likewise, required quite a bit of attention to detail. I stayed up late the night before to make the house more accommodating to the dog sitter spending some time here and left early in the morning for the two-hour drive. The board meeting went well. I am always amazed by the dedication of our board members.

I got to my hotel room, let my daughter know I was out of the board meeting and to text me when I could come over, and them promptly crashed, full out, in the bed, under the covers. When my daughter texted, I went over to her place to spend a few hours catching up with her and my son-in-law. I love spending time with them. Amazing, crazy, motivated kids who keep me on my toes intellectually with their insights into their world and their open hearts.

Sunday, I got to go to Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business and to Worship with Spring Friends. I have not worshiped with them since August and I have missed them! During the business meeting, a local cat was wandering around in the snow and was welcomed in to share our breakfast, warmth, and discussions.

Cat acting as assistant recording clerk.

Finally, before beginning the two-hour drive back to Fayettteville, I had seen the pleasant forecast and brought a change of clothes so that I could visit the Shallow Ford Trail again. I have not found my perfect trail in Fayetteville, and I was really missing Shallow Ford. Two people warned me, “It’ll be muddy and wet.” “It’s okay. I brought my muddy and wet shoes.” The second I stepped onto the foot bridge over a tiny creek that begins the trail and heard the gurgling of the water over bits of ice and rocks, I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

Shallow Ford, like many trails through wooded areas, winds back and forth and round and about. It goes uphill and downhill. Sometimes, there are trees that have come down and have not been cleared away, yet.

We have mindfulness classes at Quaker House and, the first Thursday of the month, Holy Trinity opens their beautiful labyrinth to the public. That labyrinth is peaceful and serene. It makes up the floor of the sanctuary, is lit by votive candles artistically placed around it, and you can hear the trickling water of the baptismal font. It leaves nothing to be desired in beauty and in inviting a clear mind.

I have also walked an outdoor labyrinth at Stony Point Center in New York. It is simpler, but makes up for that simpleness by being outside.

I have been trying to love labyrinths, to confine my feet to their intricate patterns. But, now I finally realize, my perfect labyrinth is laid out in the winding trails through wooded areas along rivers and tributaries, up hills and down slopes, over rocks and around occasionally fallen trees. My perfect labyrinth is of the more wild variety.

 

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Recent Standoff Involving Veteran

[Originally posted on the Quaker House blog by me, cross-posted here.]

A tragic standoff with police and death of the barricaded individual occurred a few days ago in North Carolina. More details were released in a Fayetteville Observer article, today.

A few things stand out in the article:

  • The veteran who barricaded himself and shot at police, Kevin Battaglia, was described as a “good soldier who lost his way after he left the Army” and that “his demons were catching up to him.”
  • He was apparently diagnosed with PTSD and was frustrated by his experience with the VA Hospital.
  • “He turned to an extreme grasp of faith to where that was the only thing he was concerned with.”
  • Photographs he posted showed “a Bible on top of a bulletproof vest and an American flag draped on the rifle.”

Was Kevin Battaglia suffering from moral injury in addition to or rather than PTSD? They have overlapping symptoms, and his turn to religion may have been an attempt to deal with any moral injury components.

The photos highlight a concerning trend — the militarization and patriotism/nationalism-alignment of religion that we sometimes see. We are quick to notice when it happens in non-Christian religions, but do we recognize this in Christian expressions of religion?

Regardless, a “good soldier,” (ie, I imagine a good person, who was also described as intelligent) suffered mental anguish and eventually died a tragic death that appears to have had components of suicide-by-cop. Our soldiers–our family members and friends–are being wounded by their experiences of war. Sometimes these wounds are invisible, but terribly deep and exacting.

Can we work toward peace? Can we do more to help veterans when they return?

One of his friends is mentioned as having reached out to Kevin recently. His friend also regrets not having done more. We thank him for reaching out to Kevin, and our hearts go out to him and all the friends and family who are now left with wounds of their own to heal.