Brigadier

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Brigadier: (n) a rank of officer in the army, above colonel and below major general.

Sometimes foolishness gets a pass, but it has to be legitimate foolishness. Dictionary BI’m talking about that fresh kind that just slipped out of your stupid brain because of your ignorance. If you’ve done foolishness before, you can’t claim that it’s “innocent foolishness.”

I did a foolish thing.

I was so young, self-inspired and full of false confidence that life decided not to punish me for my presumption.

My younger brother decided to join the army. Considering he had never even played with army men and walked with the sensitivity of a marshmallow, the idea was ludicrous. But it was in full swing before any of us realized that he had sauntered off to be a soldier.

The first we knew of it was upon receiving a call from basic training, where he pleaded for us to “get him out of there”–or he was going to commit suicide.

Now, I can discuss with you the unfairness of him placing me in that situation, but instead, I will tell you that in an attempt to be a good big brother, I called the army base where he was doing his imitation of G.I. Joe, and talked to a Brigadier General. Now, I don’t know exactly what a Brigadier General is, but it sounds a whole lot more important than me.

For some reason, he took my call. I don’t know why. Maybe he was just a nice guy. Maybe he couldn’t believe that someone was asking for his younger brother to be released from basic training.

His first inclination was to laugh at me. After all, you can’t maintain a volunteer army while promising a money-back guarantee. If everyone who was displeased with the accommodations at “Fort Kick Your Ass” was released immediately, we wouldn’t have enough soldiers to march in a small-town parade.

So on the first call he chuckled.

On my second call, he took the fatherly approach, explaining how the military works.

On the third call he appealed to my patriotism.

On call 54, he asked me if I knew how powerful he was.

But somewhere along the line, on the 93rd call, he paused. This is what the Brigadier asked me:

“You’re going to keep calling me until we release him, aren’t you?”

I replied, “You can just stop taking my calls.”

“Then I would have a suicidal assistant to deal with,” he presented.

I really don’t know what happened.

I don’t know if what I said made any difference at all.

But this fine Brigadier General realized that I was sincere and that my brother was not even suited to the rigors of being a back-up in the chorus line.

They released him.

It was a miracle.

But actually, it was an expansive piece of grace … granted by a man who was trained to be ruthless.

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Bask

Bask: (v) to revel in and make the most of something pleasing.Dictionary B

Intimidation enforced for the purpose of demanding imitation:

In other words, if a flag held by a soldier in uniform comes streaming by, there is a certain protocol that is supposed to be enacted by me–and preferably some emotion to go along with those well-rehearsed actions.

  • Take your hat off
  • Bow your head
  • Sprout some tears
  • Put your hand on your heart
  • Mumble a prayer

Only then will you be convinced that I am are a true patriot.

If you pray for peace or work to keep our soldiers out of harm’s way so they can return to their families after their due diligence, you just might be considered anti-American.

I love to bask–but I find it difficult to bask in the glories of the past.

There is so much beauty available. We don’t need to worship a history book, a symbol, a Bible or a creed which can be cold and leave us chilly.

Why can’t we develop a faith that births new blessings every day, and fills our hearts with such hope that removing a hat, bowing a head and speaking a prayer is spontaneous?

Bask in the glory.

I don’t want to bask anymore in the glory of what America once was, but join with my fellow citizens to keep it glorious, so that the memories of our freedom are fresh instead of arranged in the pages of the history books.

I want to bask in the glory of a God who loves me and have that sensation sweep over my soul instead of listening to how some apostle 2000 years ago was impressed enough by his mission to become a martyr.

Yes, it is the responsibility of those who are living to keep beauty vibrant, so it is not a memory that we have to conjure and thrust into prominence, but instead becomes the showers of blessing and the sunshine of our reality. 

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Achilles

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter AAchilles: a hero of the Trojan War. During his infancy his mother plunged him into the Styx, making his body invulnerable except for the heel by which she held him. During the Trojan War, Achilles killed Hector but was later wounded in the heel by an arrow shot by Paris, and died.

Since I saw the movie, Troy, Achilles will always be Brad Pitt to me. Or maybe it’s that Brad Pitt will always be Achilles. Whichever floats your boat. And speaking of floating your boat … Supposedly Helen of Troy had an affair with Paris, which started a war and launched a thousand ships.

If you watch the movie, you see the portrayal of a very arrogant, self-sufficient, mean-spirited, dark, quizzical and I suppose to the average woman between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five, sexy Achilles.

He liked killing people.

That should be one of the classic turn-offs, but it seemed to be very exciting to his fellow-fighters and all the women who met him. He was rather ruthless, which the Greeks, who touted themselves to be such a scholarly bunch, still extolled as noble. He considered himself to be invincible, which lends itself to a bit of foolishness and certainly makes one obnoxious.

What did I learn about Achilles? I relearned the very valuable lesson that half of what I believe about myself is only true because it hasn’t been tested, and the other half, that has been tested, I do not believe, for some reason or another, to be sufficient to my needs.

We are all foolish when we think that because we haven’t yet met an enemy who can take us down, that we are beyond conquering. And we’re also quite silly when we downplay the TRUE virtues of our soul and talent, deeming them insignificant.

If Achilles had just been a good soldier, treated people better, and had not run into battle believing he was made of titanium, he probably could have lived to a ripe old age, had children and been deeply respected by the world around him. Instead, he let his ego drive his mission rather than using common sense and restraint.

It’s doubtful that dipping him in the River Styx actually achieved the purpose of making him supernatural. It sure did give him a lot of confidence, though–that is, until somebody shot an arrow in just the right place.

Interesting. Since we talk about Achilles, I wonder if that’s where we got the phrase, “that person’s a real heel.”