Views From the Bishop's Chair | After the Fall of Afghanistan
AFTER THE FALL OF AFGHANISTAN
I have been at a loss for words regarding the situation in Afghanistan. So, I called a friend who served there during the war. I asked him what he thought. From a far more personal perspective, he found it hard to unravel all he was pondering. “I wonder about a lot. The longest war we have ever fought, I wonder about that. I wonder about the men and women with whom I served and the sacrifice made. I held the hand of a very brave 19-year-old young man as he died and cried out for his mom. Most of all I wonder about the Afghan women and children I met. I am sure that they will face terrible hardships. And I wonder about the girls we rescued one night in a raid who now are US citizens. It is all a lot to take in.”
For my friend, the situation in Afghanistan is personal. And because of where we live, it is personal for many in our region. In our diocese that we know as the Central Gulf Coast, we live in community and communion with a very significant number of people associated with the military. Each day that I drive to Pensacola from my home in Fort Walton Beach, I pass by several military test sites and a major Air Force base. By quick count, there are eight or nine major military bases within the boundaries of our diocese. In addition to those who serve our country on active duty at these installations, there are their families as well as numerous government contractors, and many veterans and their families. This presence is a vital aspect of our shared landscape.
I wonder what all this stirs up for those in our local communities who have served in Afghanistan. I am old enough that the images and stories I have seen in the last days have churned up deep memories of the fall of Vietnam. I wonder about our veterans of that war, too. And most of all, I wonder about the people in Afghanistan, many of those whose lives are now ripped asunder in chaos and uncertainty. In times such as these, we know in our very flesh and bones that we belong to each other. So as the people of God, let us pray.
God of all creation, you have fashioned every corner of this our island home and we grieve today with those who grieve in and over Afghanistan: the people who call it home, the people exiled who are desperate for loved ones, and the people from all countries who have made sacrifices for the cause of its future. Give us courage, discernment, and generosity here and within the international community at large as we do our best to respond to this crisis.
We remember with humble reverence the loss of the lives of military personnel in Afghanistan, ever conscious of the anguish of those in our community who remain bereaved, who have been wounded on operations, and those who are now forever changed by experiences suffered there.
Therefore, we ask your blessing on all who are troubled and grieve: for the people of Afghanistan, for our military service members, and for the whole human family. Give us all your peace which surpasses our limited understanding and restore in us the assurance of your presence and provision.
We ask, name, and pray for all of these things in the name of the One true peace-giver, Amen.