The Stretch

Blog 2449 – 07.09.2022

The Stretch

I suppose that faith is reaching out into the unknown and expecting to find something or someone reaching back. Many have made a profitable scam of religion, politics, and sales in general, but the poet still asks, “What shall it profit a man if he (or she) gain the whole world but lose his soul.”

I am ever modifying the phrases that make up my daily mantra as I do not wish to get stuck thinking that I have arrived. It is, to me, a great shortcoming this turning of any great idea, great quote, or piece of writing into merely a creed or loyalty oath.

Much has been said, of late especially, about solemn oaths in particular that one taken to uphold and defend the United States Constitution. Conflicting loyalties are always problematic. As a soldier I took an oath to the Constitution and to obey the lawful orders of those duly appointed above me in the chain of command. In the almost three years that I served on active duty during the Vietnam War, I only refused to obey one order and that was to cut an entire parade field with a push mower. A buck sergeant was angry to have been assigned a hand full of signal corp student soldiers to do busy work after class and before our evening meal. He had been assigned as permanent cadre to our training company and was not happy to be there so he felt it his mission to make us as miserable as he felt and he intended to do so by exercising the little authority he had over us. Hence the exaggerated and unlawful order to cut an entire parade field, several times the length and breadth of a football field, with a crew of five or six men with push mowers. It was not only an impossible task to accomplish before supper or even before roll call the next morning, but the post had a grounds maintenance crew with power mowers to keep that parade field looking sharp and it had just recently been cut.

I had been a Boy Scout, had two years of High School ROTC, and eight weeks of Basic Training in the Army and all that had taught me the wisdom of obeying orders, keeping my head down, and not bucking the system, but this situation was to me “a bridge too far.” So I spoke up and refused. No one had appointed me to speak for my fellows, but I did. The buck sergeant threatened to take me before the Company Commander for refusing to obey orders. I calmly replied he could take me before the Battalion Commander if he wished but that I (we) refused to mow a parade field that did not need cutting and that I (we) considered that both a stupid and unlawful order. I was ready to stand before a commanding officer and present our case, was he? He was not and quickly rescinded the order, instead ordering us to push the mowers off the field, sweep them off, put them away, and await the trumpet call to line up at the mess hall for our evening meal. I actually got along quite well with that sergeant the both of us thinking that I might have grown an inch or two taller on the inside. I had stretched out believing and that faith had been rewarded.

I have, as I said, recently revised a portion of the beginning of my daily mantra, I used to say: “My heart and my mind are open, my arms and my hands are open, my mouth, nose ears, and eyes are open to all the Universe has for me.” Now following “eyes are open” I add, “I am completely open for the Universe to flow in and through me.”

Some might think that is quite a stretch, but it is not when you know Who and Whose you are in the chain of command. A Roman centurion, commander of a hundred men, once came to Jesus requesting him to heal his dying daughter. The centurion went on to say that he was a man under authority and that he said to this one go and he went and to another stay and he stayed. Before healing the centurion’s daughter Jesus paid tribute to the Roman’s faith saying that he had not seen the like in all of Israel. Jesus recognized the power of the stretch. His life was a stretch. And as he was so are we in this world.

Your friend and fellow traveler,

David White

Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me

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