2012 Vietnam War Symposium- TSIO All Rights Reserved
“War as a prayer” as a way in which I reconciled my own experiences.
Among the things I “lost” in Vietnam were any sense of meaning for the phrases “right” and “wrong” and a sense of “connection” between my community and myself. I gained some knowledge however; I found I could survive in evil circumstances and that I was capable of doing some pretty terrible things. I discovered that I could survive by assuming I was dead anyway, and focusing in the present and the “mission.” I learned a lot about compassion, love, and sacrifice. I came “home” fragmented – incomplete – a part person. Over the years on my own journey towards wholeness I have learned the importance of connection and community. The sense of connection was renewed with the VET Center program and the veterans group of clergy to which I belong (as well as within my own family structure).
Trauma, to be validated, demands community, achieved through sharing stories. Trauma is personal. One of the communities I wanted was God and me; and if we are going to have community we are going to listen to each other’s stories. We are going to have a conversation, a personal connection through sacred conversation, or prayer. What is the personal conversation, the prayer, like – it is Scary, Honest, Intense,and Tough. Instead of the one-way of ACTS it is the journey of SHIT, calling forth the recognition that all shit is not bad, but can be life-giving as well. Thus my statement that my healing has taken place when I began to regard war as a prayer or perhaps a context for prayer.
Alan was in the US Navy from 1969 to 1975, 5 years on active duty – as an enlisted man in the Naval Security group, then as an officer – first as an advisor in VN then as a teacher at the Naval Academy prep School.
Other Posts by Alan Cutter:
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