I wrote in last month's PeaceSigns I would be attending a conference at AMBS on Healing the Spiritual Wounds of War, led by Carolyn Holderread Heggen. It was quite powerful. I have a piece about my experience at the conference and the questions it raised for me. Keith Lyndaker Schlabach also has a nice contribution on the issue of returning veterans. In addition, we have a transcript of the chapel service Carolyn spoke at in conjunction with the conference. Thanks to AMBS for putting that conference together and to Carolyn for the work she's done with returning veterans and calling attention to the pain these men and women face. She shares her expertise and passion beautifully.<read more>
Naming the Pain
by Carolyn Holderread Heggen
Throughout history, different names have been used to describe the effects of the emotional and spiritual pain people who have been asked to kill experience. The name has changed but when you go back and read some of the old medical journals and diaries of medical people you realize they are talking about the same thing. Way back in the 1600's Swiss soldiers were said to have nostalgia. During the US Civil War, writers called it "the staggers" or "irritable heart," some interesting names. The terminology of WWI it was Shell Shock, and then in WWII it was Combat Neurosis and Battle Fatigue. And like I said, for the Veterans of the Vietnam War, the term was Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.<read more>
Some of us, for years have been calling that Post Traumatic Soul Disorder. And it's interesting that although the Psalmist doesn't use scientific, psychological language, it's rather startling how similar the feelings he describes are to what Vets have been saying, and for a number of years saying. Listen again to what the Psalmists says "There is no heath in my body, my guilt has overwhelmed me, my wounds fester, I am bowed down and look very low. All day long I go about mourning. My heart pounds. My friends and neighbors stay away from me. My strength fails me. The light has gone out of my eyes. I am troubled by my sin."
by Jason Boone
In February, I attended the "Healing the Spiritual Wounds of War" conference at AMBS. Carolyn Holderread Heggen expertly illustrated and explained the spiritual wounds returning veterans carry. Spiritual wounds encompass post-traumatic stress disorder but go deeper, touching the souls of those who have committed or been witness to acts of violence which go against the moral foundations of humanity. The atrocities inherent in war are well-known, but only recently has the spiritual devastation done to the soldiers who participate in war been recognized.<read more>
There is hope for these returning veterans with spiritual wounds and it lies not in Veterans Administration hospitals, mental health professionals or pharmaceuticals, although some of these might have a place in helping veterans return to wholeness. The hope for healing spiritual wounds is found ultimately in God's healing love. Communities of Christian faith offer the setting for returning veterans to come to terms with these wounds and be restored spiritually.
Peacemakers on a journey
by Joanna Shenk
The stories in recently published Widening the Circle: Experiments in Christian Discipleship illustrate that we can't be peacemakers on our own. We are called to make peace in community-with ourselves, each other, and our neighbors.<read more>
Each of the nineteen chapters is authored by a different individual who reflects on their journey of discipleship, shaped by the Anabaptist tradition. With humility and joy, these authors reflect on their stories of formation in community as they seek to embody shalom in a broken world.
May God bless your hand
by J. Ron Byler
I sat in the quiet of St. Anne's Basilica in the old city of Jerusalem and remembered the story about Jesus in John 5. It was here, outside by the pools of Bethesda, that Jesus healed the paralyzed man.<read more>
"Do you want to be made well?" Jesus asked the man. The man was incredulous. Of course, he wanted to be made well. He'd been waiting by the side of the pool for years, but no one had been willing to help him in.
by Merrill R. Miller
"Otterville" is copyrighted and is not to be reproduced in any form without permission. Contact Merrill Miller at <MerrillM@MennoMedia.org><read more>
Women produce more than half of the world's food, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. In most developing countries, rural women produce between 60 and 80 percent of the food and are the main producers of the world's staple crops such as corn, wheat and rice.<read more>
Although these facts have been common knowledge for a long time, women's role as key contributors to global food security is only now being recognized by policymakers and development experts. This is critical because agriculture can contribute immensely to global economic growth and development. How women farmers fare in the food production chain is a significant component in the fight against hunger.
It has been amazing to me during this nearly three month illness how central to my healing the Christian community that surrounds me has been. First, my monastic brothers who have cared for me in various ways day in and day out. My family , friends, those who minister to me and those I minister to, have given so much of their time and energy to assist in that care and in those visits to me. Again, never having been sick for a long period of time, I was stunned how much a card, or an email, a phone call or visit could mean to me from people near and far. Not because those cards and emails and visits meant so much in and of themselves, but because they represent an individual's and an entire community's prayer and love that lifted me, the one who needed caring for, up to God.<read more>
My natural bent is to be practical. While I enjoy theory and find real satisfaction in planning, designing, and imagining, ultimately I try to find ways to get something done.<read more>
My undergraduate education was in engineering and I have an engineer's practical outlook, always looking to fix a broken piece of furniture, toy or appliance, rather than scrapping it, often finding a unique way to replace an "irreplacable" broken part. The warning label "No user serviceable parts" holds no meaning for me. It may be true that something can't be repaired, but I'm always inclined to give it a try.
Recently I have become aware of conversations within some Mennonite circles about reaching out to wounded soldiers returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I wish to wholeheartedly affirm this idea and strongly encourage us to move from conversation to action. In particular, I would invite Anabaptist and other Peace churches around military installations to reach out to these communities as a way to help heal the wounds and wounded of war. While it is difficult to get a firm tally of those wounded in the "War on Terrorism," namely because the Pentagon is reluctant to acknowledge certain casualties (see "the invisible wounded"), the number of those sick, injured or disabled is in the tens of thousands. There is much we can do as a people of compassion and peace.<read more>