To soldiers I've never met

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

A couple of days before the fighting began, I heard a young soldier on the radio. He was stationed in Kuwait and said that he and his cohorts didn't feel much support from home in the US. They were aware of all the antiwar protests, and no high-ranking official had visited to give them a pep talk. He was concerned that he was going out to risk his life, and nobody really cared.

As the mom of an 18-year-old daughter (albeit one safely tucked away at college), I had a heart for this young guy's concern. Regardless of whether this war is a good idea, it hurt to think of these soldiers feeling left alone when they were preparing to risk it all. I thought of that interview several times during the next few days, and wished for a way to help.

Then, in our local paper I read an article about a grandmotherly woman who had found a way. She'd gathered a list of local men and women in the armed services. She was organizing a morning of letterwriting. The article encouraged us to bake cookies, contribute toiletries and other items in short supply in the desert, and come to write letters on Saturday. A veteran heard of the plan and arranged the use of the VFW hall. A printer would supply the stationery.

On Saturday I joined the cars turning into the muddy parking lot of the veterans' hall. The cookies I baked were greeted with delight and whisked away to the cookie table, surrounded by women packaging them. The room was filling with cartons of donations for care packages. There was a money jar to contribute for postage. And there were three long tables with paper, pens, envelopes, and address lists of the fifty or so local folks in the military. It was all cheerful and buzzing.

People came and went, writing letters to someone they knew - or didn't. The organizer looked amazed at the love that kept coming through the door. She stood in the middle, greeting and thanking everyone who came and waving to head us in the right direction.

Sitting down to write at a table with three veterans, a mother and daughter, and a high school boy, I faced the hard part. What would I say to soldiers I'd never met? What would help? What would I want to hear if I were there?

So in each of the letters, after commenting on this year's big mud season (which might be a wistful memory in the dusty desert), I assured them that they definitely had support from home. I thanked them for their courage and for bringing whatever good they could to their situation. Then I said that I hoped they knew that they would never be outside of God's loving care - adding that God has perfect night vision. I thought they'd enjoy that. That was it.

But it's the thought behind the brief reference to God that matters. It's actually God's relation to each of His children that really matters. It's there whether someone knows it or not, but it's more comforting to know it. God, the creating Mind, has decided what is to exist - all good. And "whatsover God doeth, it shall be forever" (Eccl. 3:14). One thing He has decided to create is man (male and female) in His image and likeness.

This man is both spiritual and eternal, as God is. And this man lives within God's realm, within Spirit - and always will. Nationality, religion, politics, geography have no bearing on this Creator/creation relationship. Even wounds or death make no change in this relationship.

The Apostle Paul put it beautifully: "I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38, 39). That's the care I had in mind when writing those letters.

Then I heard a radio piece about a Gulf War veteran who said that when he was serving overseas, he'd felt utterly alone. Then he received a letter from a fourth grader addressed "To Any Soldier." That simple letter said that people were in fact thinking of him. The vet said that the letter instantly ended his loneliness, and that comfort lasted for the rest of his time there. Oh, I hope my letters do that!

Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love, bring

to earth a foretaste of heaven.

Mary Baker Eddy

(founder of the Monitor)

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