We nod at the multitude of stark headstones, admitting the sacrifice, but never wandering the lengths of the rows. Never dropping to our knees and weeping on the slight mounds in the grass.
Our heroes have been laid to rest here. We know all of them and none of them. We are aware and oblivious. In our own daily toil, in front of computer monitors in air conditioned cubicles, we have forgotten.
My lunch break had been spent at a nearby park, barefoot in the grass, reading about fictional characters... fictional events. But the beginning of my second shift was closing in, and the fiction had ceased.
I sighed and closed my eyes. The long, red scratch marks on my forearms, residual Connor pain, were already healing. The waves of cool air from the dashboard coated me, spreading over the canvas of my skin like paint on rollers. Where he'd broken the skin at my wrist, I'd placed a band-aid. My Little Pony. The only kind in the preschool first aid kit, certainly, but also kind of cool.
My afternoon Diet Coke, the third of the day, hissed to life. I fingered the metal tab and absently ticked off the letters of the alphabet as I wobbled it back and forth at the hinge. It snapped away in my hand at J.
I gulped it down fast, wishing for the energy to erupt through my body and carry me through the afternoon. But my exhaustion was overwhelming.
In the four hours I'd dealt with Connor that morning, he'd bear-hugged a little girl in his class until she'd begun to cry, broken another child's toy and, in a climactic move worthy of Broadway, he'd waited for my eyes to drift somewhere else for a moment and then sprinted out of the classroom and into the school yard... proceeding to strip naked and skip around the playground, twittering and flapping his arms.
In a cluster of doubtful cedars, branches laden with despair, is an ink-black pool of water surrounded by obsidian stones. When a girl on a journey stops to rest, wandering into the woods, she thanks her god for shelter and moves to take a seat. She pauses at the poolside, the loneliest spot in the land, and looks for her reflection.
There it is, her face, the one she hasn't seen in so long. After all, she hasn't stopped for rest in days.
Ground has been covered, battles have been fought and won, mysteries have been solved, questions have been answered... but her face has been left unattended, unvisited.
Leaning over the pool, she is astonished to see that her hair is knotted and tangled, has become a thicket of burs and grease. Dirt is caked in the crevasses at the base of her neck and, yes, there behind her ears. Her nose is sunburned and her lips are chapped. She raises her hands to poke and prod at the sallow cheeks and thick eyebrows, grimacing at herself, but drops her arms in defeat when she sees the black residue beneath her ragged fingernails.
When the World was less than nothing, God was sovereign. He set Time in its track and knows the length of its course. Creation of the living and the non-living, emotions and intentions, all of these He conceived first. Nothing, no one, is outside of His absolute domain.
Do I allow this consideration to affect my forethought regarding my government, my finances, my marriage, my potential children, my job...?
Ideally, I suppose I should spend more time considering the overall advancement of God's will when it comes to each of these important aspects of my life. But I also believe that His case will be advanced even if I choose merely to take an active stance in these areas according to my own basic needs.
That may sound selfish or even lazy, but God is the Master Chess Player here. He would sacrifice a Pawn for a Bishop in order to maintain His purpose, but this has nothing to do with the ranking of the pieces. Rather, I know He would likewise sacrifice a Bishop for a Pawn if the greater plan for both was still to be achieved.