Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Been To Canaan.... And Can Tho
I was back at basketball camp Monday after spending last Thursday/Friday on the disabled list due to a knee issue. This morning, I was seen by a very highly respected knee specialist. After drainage and a shot, along with a prescription and the ordering of rest, ice, and a compression sleeve, I think I will live. I don't think my July 5th departure to Vietnam is endangered but do keep me in your prayers. And on a sad note, basketball camp is over for me for this June.
Before our afternoon camp session began at 12:45 yesterday afternoon, I was sitting at one of the lunch tables in our cafeteria when I struck up a conversation about basketball with a gentleman who had dropped off one of our campers. There was one more step I had to take before I joined the staff on the court. I had taken my shoes off at lunch and subsequently could not put my left one back on, as the range of motion in my left knee prohibited the procedure. One of our coaches, Augusta Guthrie, came over and graciously fitted it on my foot and perfectly tied the laces. The man asked and I told him I had somehow injured myself in Vietnam and it had without warning recurred. He asked what I had been doing in Vietnam and I explained I had spent the past six, soon to be seven, months of July in Can Tho, working with a church and the English school established by some of the members. He told me he had been in Vietnam as well.... as a soldier. I asked how long he was there and it will take a long time for me to forget his answer, word for word:
"Twelve months, sixteen days."
He told me the name of his airborne unit. I told him Vietnam is a beautiful country; his recollection was different. I told him that if I had known as a kid I would be riding down the Mekong River in a small boat, which I have done, it would have been in combat. He laughed as I recall. Then he said something I thought was very poignant. My new friend told me he really struggled for twenty years after his return from Southeast Asia but after several decades, he began feeling yearnings to return to the place he hoped he would never see again. He asked about volunteer possibilities and I told him although mine is a unique situation, I am sure there are programs where he would be welcomed. The whistle blew, the conversation had to end, but our conversation has stayed with me the past twenty-four hours.
When I was young, I loved the Carole King song, Been To Canaan. It was kind of a love song but more one filled with nostalgia:
Been so long, I can't remember when
But I've been to Canaan and I wanna go back again....
That's the way I feel about Vietnam and more each successive trip. And in a funny way I think that's the way that soldier has begun to feel. One of the great gifts I believe the Lord has blessed humans with is the ability to move past the past over time. We might need to make peace with a decision or a mistake or a heartache or a nightmare. For the closure, we might have to walk those fields and streets one more time that we despised. Sometimes we have to forgive, sometimes we have to be forgiven, and sometimes we have to forgive ourselves. Lord willing, I'll be back in Vietnam in eighteen days to be blessed by those I have come to love in the Lord. Someday, I hope my friend can go there to put some bad dreams to rest. We all have our reasons.
Applicable quote of the day:
“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”
To listen to Carole King sing, Been To Canaan, click or copy/paste the link below:
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Posted by Steve Hawley at 9:04 PM