Erik Sabiston writes how peace can be accompanied by many frightening sounds.
By Erik Sabiston
I’m not certain about many things in this world we live in, but I do know what peace means to me. It’s a feeling you have at the strangest of times, not in your living room in your favorite chair. I don’t feel peace in my heart when I’m satiated after a great meal, or when all the bills are paid. I don’t get peace when everybody likes me. But the gift of peace is as real as the air we breathe.
Peace is accompanied by many frightening sounds. The squeal of a bus’s air brake, the whine of a jet engine, the roar of helicopter rotors or the bellowing of a First Sergeant in an empty hangar to grab your gear and move out. It’s found in the screams of battle, the legion of voices shouting on five different radios at once and in the eyes of a man as he slips into eternity. It lives in hospitals, it strolls through the graveyard and it takes up residence pretty much wherever it is invited.
But it’s not found in the silence of your fear. When you sit on top of the roof of your command post, hiding out from those who know you best, trying to make sense of what just happened or why. It’s not the terror of hearing another rocket impact nearby and stumbling over yourself in a mad dash to your concrete bunker to save yourself, where muffled, nervous laughs blanket the ground. Peace escapes the voices of scared men pretending to be somewhere else.
And I doubt very much you’d find it at Lowe’s on Black Friday, where yearning masses break free of the constraints of common sense and dignity, scrambling like hungry hippos to tear another piece of the facade of civilization from each other’s grasp. I doubt the greatest of men, in the world’s eyes, have ever laid hold of its satisfying comfort. The peace that they seek is not found in wealth, nor position, nor family or friends.
To stare death in the face, to know that you’ve done you’re best and that it’s still not good enough. To know that the fiery drop to the ground, with its inevitable pain and shock is a win/win scenario, to not only feel it, but also to know it’s nothing more than an expected end. As a former atheist, I often wonder how those who wander from aisle to aisle in the store, or from battle to battle overseas ever keep their sanity without that reassurance. Jesus Christ, the first Christmas gift for those who will take the gift. He is my peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
And once you’ve shaken that little, tiny, insignificant monkey of death off of your back facing your own doom is impossible to do without feeling…
Erik Sabiston is the author of DUSTOFF 7-3. He grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia before winding up living off the grid in the red-woods of Northern California. Naturally restless, he moved from one job to another working as a door-to-door sales-man, music teacher, and even a butcher, until he eventually found his calling as a Soldier. He led his helicopter crew during a series of miraculous rescues on one of the most dangerous operations in the history of the war in Afghanistan. He currently teaches the next generation of aviators to fly and fight in the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. Home is wherever the Army sends him and his wife Tess—who still teases him about his fear of heights.
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Photo by Erik Sabiston