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Friday, March 5, 2010

Heart and Truth

There’s a heart beating somewhere – someone who knows what is right and wrong – someone who understands the grain and texture of the cutting edge of freedom.

Somewhere, someone who can’t be anything but single-minded, is hunting the most terrible killers ever known. The man is out there on the edges of the known world. Around him are his team-mates – now fewer because the earth is all equal in its’ potential. It is a killing field and it is a graveyard. His buddy was sent home the other day to recover inside some hospital in a forgotten corner of the real world – if he lives that long or gets that far. The man stands in this dirt street, but can still see his friend's crooked smile and grey eyes – an image that remains despite the moment of burns and blood. A tire on the edges of the field of vision smoulders, acrid, but now almost unrecognizable as they search for truth in a third-world Hell.

They are a world away from another heart, beating just as fiercely as a woman pushes her way through the crowded streets of her city. She steps on a discarded newspaper with a headline suggesting another group of troops dead after a firefight in a place she never heard of. Signs and billboards scream bright messages of the marketplace.  Tires from a passing taxi splash dirty water onto sheer stockings. A curse, voiced low, is lost in the sound of the crowd as the woman angles toward the protection of the nearby sheer faces of the glass-fronted buildings. More advertisements featuring a green hillside complete with cattle are too idyllic to be real. The images are passed unnoticed except for the brief subliminal flash as tired eyes search for truth in the mundane.

And somewhere removed from that city another heart beats strong and slow. A day of hard work not yet finished still reflects in eyes set into a creased, weather-worn face. Cattle move ahead of him across the deep green hillside as the family brings them in yet again – a long day repeated season upon season – maybe back to a time close to the dawn of man. Truth is in the feel of the leather work-glove, the even steps on uneven ground. Truth is the fences and the young children being taught this ancient way the only way it can be taught - first-hand. He passes an old vehicle submerged in the ground where it was left. A rusted bolt pokes out from the curve of a fender.

Removed from the pasture by a thousand miles, a wrench turns steady on a stubborn bolt. It may have been in this place all the way back to the day that car first rolled off the assembly line. It may have been part of the work of the previous owner. But it stands in the way of a working machine – and the heart of this man is so attuned to machines that it may as well be made out of steel, itself. There’s something in the broken things that people bring him, and the perfection he creates is like some kind of new-world magic. Truth is inside his understanding of these simple things. He knows this even as he cleans the grease from his hands at the end of each day – but never perfectly. His face stares back at him from the smudged mirror. Every year older, and every year more distant. People are harder for him to understand than gears,  so his manner is gruff and his words short. His daughter doesn't come to see him anymore. She gave up the garage for a different kind of life. He misses her. Somehow there’s always a hint of black oil inside his truth.

A beauty undiscovered combs back waves of red hair reflected somehow not as perfectly in a bedroom mirror. Her heart beats lightly. She knows somewhere out there is the right life for her, but she hasn’t found it yet. Her eyes are an impossible blue – like the sky on a clear Southwestern day. She is filled with laughter and kindness. Maybe she’s a teacher, maybe she’s a student, maybe she's even a nurse in a local hospital or maybe she’s just the free spirit we all wish we could be when we consider our own truth.

Somewhere in a nearby hospital a child is dying of an incurable disease – his spirit almost truly free now. His favorite friend, the nice lady with the red hair isn't here today. His heart beats weakly, but the boy understands more than the adults around him have given him credit for. He knows his time is measured in days and not weeks or months. He doesn’t need to understand eternity because it lives with him every moment. He would like to have been a fireman or a policeman or maybe a soldier like the one in the room across the hall, but he knows he won’t get the chance. He peeks around the corner into the soldier’s room. The man turns his head as the boy approaches the bedside a crooked smile and grey eyes are just visible on the uncovered part of the man’s face. A rough hand reaches out and touches the smooth, unblemished skin of the young man’s head. No words are exchanged. They each understand the truth. It washes around them as invisible and infinite as time itself.

Somewhere someone understands freedom. Maybe we all do. We are all regular people just trying to get through our lives, but we don’t have to live within our politics or the things we think we own. We don’t have to live as captives to the darkness of our pain, our hatreds or our carlessness. We can be more. We can transcend. We can experience truth and recognize that there are others who experience it too – in so many different ways. We are woven together in ways we’ll never be able to see or understand. Can't you see it? Can't you feel it?

Give me a single heartbeat and a moment of perfect clarity and I will give you something of enduring beauty and wonder. I will show you a miracle and I will give you freedom as we all know it should be.

I will give you the United States of America.

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