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A Broken Landscape

Posted on May 1st, 2014

I look around at this landscape and see a million broken bodies, shattered lives and battered minds. People you love disappear into the night never to return. Children are torn from the arms of their mothers. Fathers sit on the roadside of life weeping with no hope of understanding. Spouses lie down in lonely beds next to empty pillows. Tiny moments of peace wash by inside waves of burning emotion birthed from fires of wonder, love and power. Thankful for these relationships. Utterly destroyed by their absence. The pain is tantamount to the magnificence that is no longer tasted, touched or seen. Giant vacuums inhale the joy of life and stuff it into bags of ashen dust. Digging around aimlessly we, the left behind, breathe in clouds of dirt as we search for any respite from this pain, but no, a painless existence is no longer an option. There is not a single desire in me to forget the beautiful person who once worked here building mountain ranges of hope all over the limited landscapes surrounding my minuscule existence.

I want to shake the foundations of this world with my screams. I want to beat down the walls dividing my here from his there. My loved one is walking somewhere, on a different road, a wholly different path, in some other place, not here…but I want you here…to laugh with, to breath with, to wrestle with, to fight with, to love with, to be with…

John and David Hughes

Me pretending to rescue the greatest big brother ever to walk this planet.
I miss you John…

I look around at this landscape and see a million people I had never seen before until I joined their ranks. For this, my fellow broken ones, I am sorry that I never fully noticed you. I never looked deep into your eyes to experience your pain. I may have tried your shoes for a meager mile, but I never took your shoes to wear as my own.

To those with strength to help, may you move out of your time trapped existences and truly become a protective barrier for those of us left alone and battered. Become a standard-bearer for the childless, the fatherless and the widowed. Substitute prayers of words for prayers of presence and action…be there for those who are left, here, without… You will not and can not, ever in a million years, fill this void. Don’t try. Just please, I desperately beg you, please be there. Be a consistent and stable presence, ready to receive whatever flows from our battered hearts.


A very unhappy baby version of my older brother John.
Let it out man, just let it all out.

To you, the hurting. I sit here at a loss myself. The only emotion I seem capable of at the moment is pain. I hurt when I move, when I breathe, when I touch my children, when I sit motionless, I hurt. May we keep going, keep existing for whatever reason we are still here. May we fulfill some purpose within this broken broken world. The only request I have of you is please, be you. Don’t hide your pain. Don’t cover and run. May we, the hurting, be like a very special man written about long ago. In his darkest moments, after losing all of his children, businesses, money and health, he opened his mouth and spoke the truth.

“Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job 3:20-26

I hope you weren’t expecting an uplifting platitude. No, that’s not truth when everything in your world screams ugliness. Lamentation is a natural, difficult part of life. Don’t hide your pain. Fight through it. Express it. Be real. Be honest. Be you. In this truth you live, you breathe, you exist…you can and you will…

In closing I will quote Peter Gabriel through Herbie Hancock’s arrangement of “Don’t Give Up”. This song and these words are for those who want to help. I encourage you to never give up on simply being there for the people you see who are hurting. You will fail in helping us and that is okay. You can’t fix us, but you can be a friend, an ever-present help in our time of trouble…

“Don’t Give Up”
In this proud land we grew up strong. We were wanted all along. I was taught to fight, taught to win. I never thought I could fail. No fight left, or so it seems I am a man whose dreams have all deserted. I’ve changed my face. I’ve changed my name, but no-one wants you when you lose.

Don’t give up ‘cos you have friends
Don’t give up you’re not beaten yet
Don’t give up I know you can make it good

Though I saw it all around, never thought that I could be affected. Thought that we’d be last to go. It is so strange the way things turn. Drove the night toward my home. The place that I was born, on the lakeside. As daylight broke, I saw the earth, the trees had burned down to the ground.

Don’t give up you still have us
Don’t give up we don’t need much of anything
Don’t give up ’cause somewhere there’s a place where we belong

Rest your head. You worry too much. It’s going to be alright. When times get rough, you can fall back on us. Don’t give up, please don’t give up. Got to walk out of here I can’t take any more. Going to stand on that bridge. Keep my eyes down below whatever may come and whatever may go. That river’s flowing, that river’s flowing.

Moved on to another town. Tried hard to settle down. For every job, so many men, so many men no-one needs.

Don’t give up ’cause you have friends
Don’t give up you’re not the only one
Don’t give up no reason to be ashamed
Don’t give up you still have us
Don’t give up now We’re proud of who you are
Don’t give up you know it’s never been easy
Don’t give up ’cause I believe there’s a place
There’s a place where we belong

This song can be purchased on Amazon and iTunes.
The header image is from miikas, used under the Creative Commons License.

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