Looking Out For Wounded Warriors

This is an article I wrote for the First Alliance Church weekly newsletter.  I thought I’d share it here as well.  


“Spiritual Care for the Wounded Warrior.”  That’s the conference I went to last week.  As a chaplain in the Air Force, they send us to these types of conferences from time to time to help us in our ministries.

This conference was strictly for chaplains and chaplain assistants – and it was geared toward caring for people with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

The class covered quite a lot, including the symptoms and issues related to PTSD, and some of the therapy that is available through psychiatry so we know how to refer people forward.

The class also covered how we can help, from a pastoral approach, those “wounded warriors” who are suffering .

It boils down to two main ways to help that go hand in hand:

  • Being aware.
  • Being there.

That’s it. It’s simple, really.


As I was sitting in this class, I found myself thinking how this applies to regular civilian life.  How, in fact, this applies to all of us.

As Christians, shouldn’t we use the love of God to help heal those fractures we all suffer in the battle of life? Even though someone may not be in the military, he or she could still be a wounded warrior.  We all know that life can sometimes be a fight.

As Air Force Chaplains, our goal is to make sure our Airmen know that we are a safe place to come for help.  We need them to know that we care for them and their soul – and that they aren’t alone in this struggle with PTSD or whatever issue they have.

Shouldn’t this be the goal for all of us as Christians?  Shouldn’t we strive to make sure people know we are a safe place?  That we care for their soul?

Jesus tells us, rather bluntly, 1) to love God and 2) love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39).  He said that the whole Law hangs on this commandment.

The Apostle Paul encourages us to “be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Eph 4.2).  This means that we are still to love people especially when they show weakness or hardship in their lives.  We are to enter the suffering with them.  Just like Jesus did for us.  Just like Jesus till does.

So look out for those wounded warriors you may come across in your day-to-day routine.  Maybe they are your kids, or your parents, or neighbors, or friends – they could be anyone.

Be aware.  See people with active eyes.  Look at their body language.  Really ask them how they are doing. When their words fail to match up with how they are acting, ask them about it. Chances are, they need someone to ask them directly what is going on.  Just being there with someone means so much.

The poet WB Yeats once wrote,

 He Who hath made the night of stars

For souls who tire and bleed,

Sent one of His great angels down

To help me in my need.

 Let’s be those angels for others.  Be aware.  Be there. 

 And maybe you are a wounded warrior yourself.  That’s okay.  You’re definitely not alone.  Find someone to talk to – someone in your life group, a Christian friend, go for prayer one Sunday after service, or call the church office any time.  We are here for you.

The Ineffable Name

“Too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words;”

or, “not to be uttered.”


That is the definition of “Ineffable” according to Webster’s Dictionary.


It’s also the word Yeats uses in his poem To Some I have Talked with by the Fire


It is dark but beautiful. Here is the bulk of the poem:


…My heart would brim with dreams about the times

When we bent down above the fading coals

And talked of the dark folk who live in souls

Of passionate men, like bats in the dead trees;

And of the wayward twilight companies

Who sigh with mingled sorrow and content,

Because their blossoming dreams have never bent

Under the fruit of evil and of good:

And of the embattled flaming multitude

Who rise, wing above wing, flame above flame,

And, like a storm, cry the Ineffable Name


The imagery of souls as being like “bats in dead trees” is so interesting.  The souls are very much alive and are hanging on to something very much close to being dead.  So many of us, all of us at one point or another, feel like dead trees…barely hanging on to survive. 

There is so much to consider in this work – such as the “companies who sigh” because their dreams have never “bent under the fruit of evil and of good.” This seems to reflect upon the person who has dreams, but never dared to fulfill them…never dared to live them…

And then we come to the Ineffable Name.  What is he referring to here?  Most critics suggest that he is probably referring to Irish Republicanism, and how the phrase ‘Republic of Eire’ was not allowed to be uttered in Ireland at that time. And the ‘Embattled flaming Multitude’ referrs to those fighting for the Irish Republicans fighting against England for liberty.

And that is probably what he is referring to here.

But there is another allusion that can be drawn from that line.

We are all an embattled flaming multitude, aren’t we?  We all fight against the darkness that tries to prevail itself upon us, don’t we? We all get broken by the world and the evil therein, and find ourselves in “wayward companies.” However…there is hope. There is an Ineffable Name that we can cry.  There is the name of one who gives us the strength and courage to “rise, wing above wing.” There is One that is truly too great to be expressed in words.  And this One longs to bring hope and joy…and liberty… to the souls of passionate men, and wayward companies, and the embattled flaming multitude.  

Like the Irish Republicans, we have our own fight for liberty don’t we?  Thanks to the Ineffable Name, we can rise and, like the storm, cry out…

Heart Images – Yeats

I found another great poem this morning, again by Yeats. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. 


The poem is titled The Lover mourns for the Loss of Love


Pale brows, still hands and dim hair,

I had a beautiful friend

And dreamed that the old despair

Would end in love in the end:

She looked in my heart one day

And saw your image was there;

She has gone weeping away.


I love the image Yeats paints of his beautiful friend – pale brows and dim hair don’t usually get tagged as beautiful.  But he does so here.  I wonder why.


But more importantly,  this poem got me thinking about what is in my heart – about who is in my heart.  If someone looked in my heart whose face would they see?  

It sounds cheesy, but this poem makes me think of Jesus – how he longs to find himself in our hearts.  How it must hurt him when he doesn’t find his image there.  


I think Jesus is a lover who mourns the loss of love too. 


The one difference, though, is that He doesn’t go weeping away.  He stays there.  Always hoping.  Always wooing.  Always yearning to be believed and trusted and accepted and written on our hearts. 


Even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts, not your clothes. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.  Joel 2:12-13 (Emphasis added)