In the spring of 1972 my brother Danny Chapman came home from two tours in Vietnam. My family of origin is entrenched in a cult called Jehovah’s Witnesses . My mother talked Danny into going with us to church… fail!
Now let me digress, since then I have learned that Danny has suffered with severe PTSD. The things he experienced were from the thick of combat. So here he is fresh from battle. Jehovah’s Witnesses forbid a person to be involved with any war for any reason and if break this rule, you are “disfellowshipped” from the congregation, ostracized, disbanded, shunned or “dead to them” might be a better way to put it.
So here he was with the start of what would soon become massive PTSD, at an organized function of a cult that condemns him for where he has been the last four years. So “Brother Gilbert”, a sanctioned “elder” of the cult stands before the entire congregation and informs them that Danny was not to be welcomed or spoken to. Danny quickly left the building.
I was only 15, but I was mortified. I had noticed that Danny had changed since he came home, he was sad. There was pain in his eyes, I saw the difference and I intuitively knew that he was wounded. I followed him outside.
He was standing beside the building smoking. He was ranting one curse word after another, and I was agreeing all the way. I was embarrassed by the public humiliation that was cast upon my brother. But wait, that is not all, the man that ostracized and humiliated him? Just 12 years later was convicted of child molestation and ultimately convicted and jailed.
When this song came bubbling up from the depths of my mind, this memory over 43 years old began to surface. At first I wasn’t sure why I wrote this. But then as I sang and wrote, I remembered a story of a soldier watching his friends head get blown off. This poor fellow went on to become a homeless vet for years until a kind woman in a soup kitchen helped him find his footing, get clean and re-enter society.
I find life with all of its happiness, its many twist and turns, failures and tragedies to be the fundamental building blocks of character and beauty. These are the stones we were meant to cast, the stones of our foundation and wisdom. This is one of my favorite works for its content and meaning and profound effect on my family.
As I post this I am holding all of those closest to me, that have been in the trenches, literally and figuratively: Orlando, William, Danny, Lori (and many others) that stood in harms way, were wounded and then healed… thank you for all you do and have done.
I love you all!