I awoke this morning to the news that 5,002 U.S. troops have now been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An inconceivable number dwarfed by the number who have died of accident, overdose, or suicide as a result of the things they saw and did and lived through in these wars. Too many friends have come too close to being counted among that number.
By late morning I was interviewing Warren Henthorn, the father of Jeffrey Henthorn who died in Iraq on February 8, 2005 at the age of 25. He told me:
"“Way too many have died on all sides of these wars. If I remember correctly, President Obama won the Democratic nomination based on the promise to end the war in Iraq. But, between Iraq and Afghanistan, at the end of this year we will actually have more troops in harm’s way then we did at the height of the ‘surge.’ That’s just as bad as we had it under President Bush. These wars now belong to President Obama. The blood is on his hands.”
His words plain, and direct hit me deep in my chest.
I felt the enormity of all that had been lost. And ached to know how the world could ever be made whole again.
I walked down the dirt road to the garden by the edge of the pond where I had planted Marsh Mallow and Elecampane and knelt down on the ground by the biggest Elecampane plant and put my hands at her base and felt the medicine flow through the soil from her roots and work its way into my lungs.
I looked up and watched the wind on the water. This too was real. Just as real.
The world is already whole -- whats fragmented is our conception of it. Our inability to embrace paradox, to accept more than one truth at a time is at the root of the wars that killed these thousands of troops and tens of thousands of Afghans and millions of Iraqis.
But the wholeness is there. And the plants bring us down into the rich soil which reminds us of the original darkness in which we all last fully knew that wholeness.