Inspiration · Life in General

To A World Of Adversity

I am not a foreigner to a world of adversity.

I was a child when we entered Desert Storm. The shapes of my letters and numbers were learned by day and, by night, I traced the battle lines on the news live from Kuwait. I fluttered my arms like a butterfly and twirled across the stage in the school play, and laid in my bed at night, my mind a flutter with images of Saddam “Insane”. I played hand tag at lunch recess and, later, raised a salute at Fort Sill to envoys of fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters returning home in their sandy-colored BDUs (22 miles from my house).

Thanks to frank mckenna for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁

I am not a foreigner to a world of adversity.

I was a child when the FBI raided the Mount Carmel center (232 miles from my house). I read my first chapter book and, then, went home to catch up on the latest disturbing chapter about the Wacko in Waco. I went to speech class to practice saying my R’s and, hours later, learned of the 76 Branch Davidians whose final words were spoken that day in the Koresh compound.

I am not a foreigner to a world of adversity.

I was a child when, exactly 2 years later, Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder truck filled with 4,800 pounds of bomb ingredients beside a federal building (110 miles from my house). I took a spelling test before my English teacher lined it out in clear letters: “Oklahoma City was just bombed.” I spent the next 360 minutes in a strange numb confusion, my mind oscillating between multiplying fractions and fearing for my state and country. I rode my bike home from school and watched images of unrecognizable bodies being pulled from an unrecognizable building. A month later, after a full day at school, I drove 2 hours with my family to view the remnant of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building on the final evening it would grace the state capital’s cityscape.

Thanks to Deo So for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁

I am not a foreigner to a world of adversity.

I was a child when, 4 years and 1 day after the Oklahoma City bombing, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold massacred their fellow classmates and teachers (594 miles from my house). I walked the halls at my high school as a proud sophomore, confident in my future, before being slapped with the shocking reality that my classmates might kill me. I parked my 1990 Chevy Corsica in the school parking lot and, then, entered through the front doors by the office because, for the first time ever during school hours, the side doors were locked. I memorized random facts with the high school academic team before being abruptly halted by the FBI who was “doing a sweep of the school for bombs and investigating terroristic threats made by a student” — a friend of mine.

I am not a foreigner to a world of adversity.

My childhood was shaped by tragic world events that crept right onto my doorstep, right into my school hallways. It seems almost fitting that, during my first month of college, my roommate woke me up to inform me that the World Trade Center buildings had just been attacked.

I am not a foreigner to a world of adversity.

But this world is not my home. I’m here for a fraction of time. And when I’m gone, the earth will carry on without me. And I’ll, likewise, carry on in a different place, comforted by the reality that surrounds me, one without bombs and guns, one in which time is not marked by the anniversaries of tragedies, one in which fear and worry were never invited, one where animosity and mental illness cannot enter, and one without memories of such things. My home there will be serene, my land unblemished by war or terrorism, my kingdom in competition with no other. My home there will be truly safe, a refuge not findable for anything scary or menacing. My land will be without locked doors, without plans for bombmaking. My kingdom (God’s kingdom) will be peaceful, a place where the words terror and division and extremist will never exist. My new home will be the essence of all that is good, of everything we could feebly conceive in this crippled world as good — and then with an infinite helping of authentic, unadulterated good added to it. In that home where I belong, I will not mark time by tragedies. I will not mark time at all. I will bask in the good, of a day without night, of joy that falls not between episodes of sadness but instead of.

Thanks to Nghia Le for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁

I am not a foreigner to a world of adversity. But one day, I’ll leave it behind. I will bask in an endlessly good day, in an endlessly good world, forever.

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