“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.” -Edna St. Vincent Millay
A friend of mine works at a church in town with a congregation that consists mostly of homeless men and women in the Atlanta area. Over the summer, she shared a conversation with me that occurred during a group discussion about one of the psalms. Those in attendance were reading a particular verse that talked about how God grants peace to your borders when one of the men interrupted, pinched his skin and humbly acknowledged, “Today, this is my border.”
So often when we talk about the pursuit of peace, we speak of it as something to protect, obtain, or maintain for a country or particular group of people and lose sight of the fact that it is a challenge we take on as individuals every day: to not only be comfortable with ourselves when life is silent and still, but strong enough to move forward in the midst of uncertainty, crisis and heartache as well. As I wrote on this blog around the same time last year, so easily we forget that whether it’s within ourselves or on a larger scale, peace is something that we make; it requires action. Today, I am asking you to take action.
My heart aches for a dear friend whose twin brother took his life this past weekend after three tours in the Middle East with the U.S. Army. He was suffering from PTSD and insufficient medical care. In spite of spending the bulk of his days in service to the idea of creating and protecting peace for others, his toughest battle was finding peace within himself at home. He, as have many others before him, needed our help in that search.
As a beautiful gesture and testimony to what they believe Toby would have wanted, the Stinson family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to Archi’s Acres Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program in California. Archi’s Acres is a small-scale organic farm that created its VSAT program to offer returning combat veterans a way to refocus, get back to their roots and adapt their skills to the private sector, or as Mandy puts it, “to help veterans live productive and happy lives after dealing with the horrors of war.” Trainees develop business plans, build resumes and train in hydroponics to transition into agriculture jobs.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Toby, but I am fortunate to know an extension of him through my friendship with Mandy and her parents. I am inspired by their desire to literally turn the hole in the world that Toby’s absence created into a thriving piece of land that will give to so many through both its processing and products. Please join me in honoring Toby Stinson’s life by visiting the home page of Archi’s Acres and clicking the donate button. Peace be with you.