I’m not a stay-up-late person, even on the 4th of July. I know cities and regions are setting off fireworks, but my body is saying “bedtime!” I fell asleep easily Tuesday night, but woke up not long after. As one person on Facebook commented, it sounded like a war zone with all the illegal fireworks bursting in the dark around us in Idaho.
There were a lot of warnings about pets not handling the fireworks and to make sure they are in a protected area. Many dogs are frightened by the noise and lights. What the news fails to mention, and what I learned at a clergy seminar on ministry to veterans, is that this is a difficult time for some veterans also. It does sound like a war zone, and many vets carry enduring effects from the actual war zones in which they fought.
As I listened to the bottle rockets and mortars bursting around us, and saw the brilliant flashes coming through the blinds, I thought about those who were struggling that night. Sometimes sights and sounds leave marks on our minds and emotions, things we can never forget, things that immediately take us back to difficult or dangerous situations. I still feel a momentary panic when it looks like a car is about ready to turn left in front of me–and that accident happened nearly ten years ago!
Not all memories are good. For some, memories of rejection, abuse, struggles, deaths and the like drive them. Bad memories have an almost overpowering ability to carry us back where we do not want to go. They drain us of present day joy and peace. Jesus invited us to come during those times … “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” [Matt 11:28 NIV]
That invitation is not just for salvation, but also for all those times when the past strives to dominate the present.
Father, may we always be aware of the struggles others might have. May we be islands of peace and refuge for them. May we remember to pray and come alongside them. Amen.