Monday, February 15, 2016

100 days in Bosnia

Sarajevo - Bosnia Herzegovina
I spent a hundred days in Bosnia

But who’s counting?

A hundred days in the winter

in a rundown resort

with snowflakes falling

as big as half dollars

At least that’s the way I remember it

Cold and lonely and beautiful

with a few laughs along the way

Stark memories of my time there

One of which was that I often carried a gun into the city


Now that was something I’d never done before

But our military bosses wanted us to “carry”

and so carry we did

I worked every single one of those 100 days

Mostly 12 hour shifts

except for Christmas

and maybe 1 or 2 other shorter stints

Getting up early and going to bed early

so that every single day felt like the last one

Waking up and eating and working and emailing home and sleeping

and that was about it

except for one other thing

This thing

In the mornings, I’d pray for a little bit

and then head outside

to ascend a set of rickety stairs

that led to our workspace

I’d climb each step, with more than a little dread in my heart

and then walk down a breezeway to the door

of my “office” without windows

And just before turning the knob

I’d look off in the distance to see mountains

Snow-capped mountains

and this verse would come to me

rising up like a mist in my brain

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

I didn’t summon it

It would just come

again and again

A breath of hope in a foreign land

helping me face the day

for a hundred straight days.


  1. I cannot believe I just now decided to look at my blog feed (which I rarely do) and saw this so shortly after you wrote it. And that you wrote about this. I knew it, but sometimes I forget that you were there. In the city where my father-in-law oversaw the construction of buildings for the Olympics, buildings that I understand no longer stand, because of the bombings. I could never go to Sarajevo because, of course, travel was impossible in the years I lived just north and west of there. It would have been less than half a day's drive, but it might as well have been a journey to another world. I've never counted how many days I lived in Croatia, but it felt at times like a hundred years. Hard to believe it was only three years, give or take a few weeks. Psalm 121 helped me, too, though more than that it was Psalm 23, over and over and over through the nights I couldn't sleep. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...." again and again. I will never forget that. Sometimes I wish that "The Lord is my shepherd" didn't always remind me of war--but more and more it reminds me that I was never alone through that war. I remember when we came to Memphis and I saw your dad at Harding Graduate School, and he told me that you were over there. I was concerned for you, and I also in a funny way felt less alone. And even though I don't think we've ever talked about these experiences, I feel less alone reading this and remembering that you also were part of that valley of the shadow of death. I'm thankful we both made it through safely.

    1. I'm thankful too, Sheila. Speaking of the Olympics, one day we drove out to the bobsled run and saw where snipers had apparently broken holes in the sides to shoot through. We were constantly reminded not to walk through grass because of possible unexploded mines. A beautiful and dangerous place. I wouldn't mind going back one day to look around.

  2. If you do, you should also visit Croatia--and maybe at a time when we are there.