I've been thinking about pain, and about grace.
How is it that both can bring tears, that both wring the same depth of emotion from my heart? How is it that they are so mingled? I see a soldier playing with his infant son before deploying for a year, and the joy in the child's face, the love in the father's stop my breath. Grace is love toward a being who must be protected, pain is the separation required. Grace is the flight of a Blackhawk, the certainty that there flies power and rescue, and pain is the memory of blood on a table, sparks in the air as the awaited vessel takes fire. I still see it beyond my eyelids, the hovering helicopter in the evening light, the rich red and orange of the chaff trailing like a shooting star. 
I feel a deep pride in the uniform, a bond with all others who wear it, and by that bond I lend my heart to their fate. I met another in my field a few days ago, who is headed to Afghanistan. She wept, thinking about what will be, as I have wept. I feel guilt, I feel gratitude for those who go in my stead, and still I fear that place. Every nerve in my body balks at the thought of it, and yet I would go if they asked. I would go, knowing the kind of trauma I will treat-- I see it in my mind, compiled of all I have been taught, all I have seen so far. Someday I will be called again, and I fear that I will not be able to act when it is needed, that in the face of danger I will fall back. I fear that no matter how much I love, I will neither protect or heal those around me. 
I forget, so often, that what is required of me is to do my best. That what has begun is the responsibility of those who began it, that I am not responsible for the outcome. But even this is a trap, as I wonder how much of what I could have done I have accomplished. I see my frailty and my faults clearly in the dark of the night. 
Somehow I must get past all this. War does not end, so long as one people hates another. Pain is inevitable, but grace is doing what I can. Grace is taking a deep breath, and going on. In trusting that somewhere this will become beautiful. 


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