On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times, and
To live by the Girl Scout Law.
In cleaning out some boxes in the garage, I found the green sash that had all of my merit badges, the brightly colored bits of cloth that spoke of learning about more than that which the badge was given for. I packed it up and sent it off to Brigid Jr., so she could have that little part of the history of me she never knew. But it also brought back some memories of some of what I learned with that banner of cloth.
But then you have those moments, where what you see and what you witness, are so beyond the pale of anything man can dream up in his own personal darkness, that to try and compare is impossible. It's chaos and blood and the sound of screaming until the voice is spent, and nothing is left but the ghost of that scream. It's fate, it's history, it's man, machinery and microbes and sometimes it's simply a losing battle with physics. It can be a steep slope which you can tumble down in a flurry of words, it can be precarious balance, that moment where you come up abruptly to the precipice, only to stop and find you have no speech.
Sometimes its the smallest of things, that person on the corner with the sign that may well be a con artist in beggars clothes, or someone truly sleeping on the streets. It's cursing at the bathroom door that is sticking so in opening, makes the sound of a Wookie being water boarded, then you walk outside and see someones home at the end of the block burned to the ground. It's complaining to a freezer full of food, that there's nothing good to eat when elderly people who served their country and worked most of their lives, go to bed hungry. It's whining that your welfare check doesn't allow you to have an even bigger TV and a new car, when across the world, there are people that sleep on dirt floors, among the vermin and the predators, with no handouts and even less hope, because that is what being poor truly is.
There is no badge in the world that can be granted for this experience and the understanding of what it means. But if there was, it would be much like the badge we call faith. For such times make one more fully aware of just how precious this humanity is we bear, and how easily lost, and not just by outside forces. You become aware, and you grow stronger; lotuses blooming in fire.
"So, how was your day?"
So, I remain silent. And if, there in my silence, someone wants to go on about their day, their illness, or money issues, fears, or whatever, I will resist the urge to speak. For to them, in their world, that day, what they are dealing with is as important to them as anything that fate and earth can proffer elsewhere. Their fear is not unfounded, for it is their fear, and by their telling, they are seeking hope as well as safety.
I raise my head to listen. On this day, perhaps, I can give that to them.