Grenades in the Garden


This body is not Broken
Not missing all my Blood
Though I am barely Breathing
Though I don’t have the wounds I Should
These thoughts they have been Rusted
Cause I don’t think about nothing but the Rain
How about you?
This trust it has been permanently Busted
Cause I can’t find the bandage and I can’t find the Glue
How about you?
Invisible is this War
They can’t see its mortars in my mind
They can’t see its bullets piercing through my youth
They can’t see the flares lighting up declaring I need Love
They can’t see the Signals or read the Codes or send a Rescue to my Shores
Invisible is this War Inside of Me
How about you?
-There are grenades out in the Garden
Not really it’s just in my Head
Though I’ve seen them rob me of my Brothers
Though now they all explode as I turn all night in my Bed
These thoughts they have been Rusted
Cause I don’t think about nothing but the Rain
How about you?
This Calm it has been permanently Surrendered
Cause in my broken mind they burned the Treaties and I can’t find the White Flags too
How about you?
Invisible is this War
They can’t see its mortars in my mind
They can’t see its bullets piercing through my youth
They can’t see the flares lighting up declaring I need Love
They can’t see the Signals or read the Codes or send a Rescue to my Shores
Invisible is this War Inside of Me
How about you?

Grenades in the Garden is about Trauma and PTSD and really all of those tragedies that happen in our lives that separate us from those who don’t carry the unwanted memories that we have and don’t understand how we do not run as freely into the horizon unhindered as they do. Usually we think of the events in our lives as part of our past and the past is something the past is supposed to be behind us but there are certain events that define us and in defining us the past is not behind us but always beside us or even inside us. It is a shadow that speaks and reminds us of all that separates us from others, all that they have never experienced and can never understand, as people’s past are what unites them. Most unite either on the foundation of their pain or the foundation of their joy, either January Friends or Summer Camp Siblings especially in our teenage years as we are so close at hand to the moments that defined us, and also in our elderly years as the past is all we have left. There are a brief few years of youth and our twenties in which we may become united on visions of our future because for a short space between childhood and actual adulthood that we all have similar amounts of hope for the future, but the events and circumstances of our past eventually sort out those who live their dreams and those who do not. Then childhood friends segregate at the High School Reunion into those who arrived at their dreams and those who arrived at their disappointments, most often based on their experiences.
“Just a safe home and a warm bed, on a quiet little street. That’s all she really wanted that’s really all she needs. If I could be like that, If I could be like that. I’d do anything” Three Doors Down
Our experiences can often limit us more than our circumstances. A girl from an upper middle class background with the perfect family may be raped at a party in High School and never go on to college after she falls into drugs to deal with the hurt and shame then become a single mom living on Food Stamps 5 years later. Rape is a crime that kills the victim without anyone knowing it was a murder because the body lives on, even though the heart and the soul are slain. War has done the same for many young men who had every reason to hope for the future, we have in fact lost entire generations of good men with bright futures to the horrors of war. There are so many invisible casualties that go unrecognized, as the soldier’s body comes back in one piece so everyone assumes there was no injury but the mind is absolutely shattered as if a grenade had went off inside his helmet. For some soldiers, there are Grenades in the Garden and IED’s in the mail box and this is the Labyrinth of Fear they navigate every day because they have come so close to losing their life every day defending our American daily life their mind cannot accept a peaceful day as reality but only as delusion, “just make this go away, just please one more peaceful day” as Aaron Lewis of “Staind” sings. For some there is the one event that threw a bucket on paint onto every image they had for their future and of themselves which hides all that others in their life had seen in them or hoped to instill in them before that one trauma splattered the portrait.
Then there are car crashes that take those we shared life with and abuse from those we love and sharp words from those in authority over us and divorce papers in the hand of the one who promised to love us forever and the tears of our children as they wave from the rear view mirror. There is the i.v. line in the arm of a parent we can’t save and co-workers who move up while we keep standing still and best friend’s weddings in which we are never the groom or the bride and decades of all these moments of hurt gather like puzzle pieces to give us a picture of who we are.
Time will unite us and will also separate us, dependent on what time does with our hopes. Those who managed to navigate the mine field of years with all its hazards or to simply fly over it or go around it will gather together at some happy place where the only taboo is to spoke of that which does not shine or does not make everyone smile, a whole society of happiness built on that Sunday Morning Handshake Smile so well polished and practiced in Suburbia. Those were not so fortunate will gather in the basement of Methodist Churches for cheap coffee on plastic chairs every Tuesday Night to go over life until it is numb, or at the V.F.W Hall to bring glory out of their pain. Others will find some January Friend to keep the monsters under the bed at bay while disguising their deep need for love and intimacy as cheap and common lust needing to be satisfied, in this way they can share their pain without having to say its name and also ask for something without risking the unthinkable, asking for someone to love them in their brokenness.
“Does anybody hear her, does anybody see? Does anybody even know she is going down today? Under the shadow of our Steeple with all the lost and lonely people. When Judgment looms under every Steeple, with Lofty Glances from Lofty People. Can’t see past her scarlet letter and they haven’t even met her” Casting Crowns
At one time or another, we all find that the styrofoam cups aren’t healing the wound but simply preventing further infections and the January Friends kept the monsters under the bed at bay but never slew the beast and we are treading water but we are by no means swimming to shore. So we look for a lighthouse on the shore, on a direction in the darkness of the night, and religion of sorts seems to be the only thing that shines. So most will go to a light of one kind or another, most are sinking ships or buoyies that flash while filling up the self-help section of the bookstore where most people went to be entertained but you went looking for answers. Then on our way to find God, we come to the Churches to discover that at the top of that tower there is a light but to get to that light we must pretend that our clothes aren’t wet, and our muscles aren’t aching, and hide our quivering lips and the shaking of our knees and we can’t come inside because the puddle would ruin the carpet. So we stop looking for the light, and we go back to our cups and lovers.
In the words of Todd Agnew in his song, My Jesus he sings these words “Because my Jesus, wouldn’t be accepted in my Church, the blood and dirt on his feet might stain the carpet. But He reaches for the hurting, and he loves the poor and despises the proud and I think He would prefer Beale Street to this Stained Glass scene. I want to be like my Jesus. Not a poster card for American Prosperity. I want to be like my Jesus. Cause I’m tired of living for wealth and popularity”.
Not all lighthouses are as these though, there are many who would welcome us in our brokenness, our coldness, or cynicism and even in our tears and our anger. These are the rare few houses of worship and healing that offer fresh bread to those who are famished after years of struggling to not drown, warm covering those who have recently jumped from sinking ships, and strong medicine for those with shark bite wounds that won’t heal. These lighthouses are managed by those who have been in the watched their own ships go down and treaded through the night. Yes there are many lighthouses whose plastic smile will leave you cold and whose greeting is essentially “don’t drip on the carpet” and that are happy to sing “Kumbaya” while they watch the world drown but this is not all lighthouses, but those are houses for the Religion of Suburbia and not houses for the Spirit of God.
In his song “She Shall and Must Go Free” Derek Webb gives this message “Come on and paint My Picture, come on and make me up. But I will still be your defender and you will be my missing son. You bring all your History and I will bring the Bread and the Wine. We will have ourselves a party where all the drinks are on me. Then just like these Doves and Sheep you will be set Free. Cause I have found thieves and salesmen living in My Father’s House. Well I know how they got in here and I know how to get them out. I am turning this place over from floor to balcony then just like these doves and sheep you shall be set free”

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Grenades in the Garden was written primarily about people with PTSD and Trauma as friends of mine from the military suffer through along with their families and friends who have PTSD from Sexual Assault and Spousal Abuse and the “Best Things They Threw Away” which seem to have surrounded me these years, but they always view themselves the way Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows describes these Best Things “The razor perceptions that cut just a little too deep and the love sick rejections that accompany the company I keep”. Trauma has a way of convincing you that you do not deserve Peace or Happiness or Shalom, otherwise it would have been given to you when it was passed around to everyone else, or it would not have been allowed to be stolen from you. It can be like an arm that allows you to accomplish so much you never realized with its presence, but you never realized how limited you could be until its loss, a phantom pain that no one sees from a wound that no one sees and a limitation they are also blind to. Some days it would seem easier if you could simply wear a sign that says “I am not like you, don’t expect me to smile or relax in a crowded room, or be happy to meet all these strangers or stay for the party like you and you never notice that you could when others could not. You have a super power in my eyes”.
“All my life, been running from the pain in me. Been trying to find some peace. And set myself free. Fear, in itself, can use you up. Fear, in itself, can break you down like you were never enough. I use to fall but now I get back up. Today, I don’t have to fall apart. Yeah today I don’t have to fall apart. ” Blue October. the song here).
If you’re a man or even a boy, not getting a rush from the buzz of a power saw or the pop of fireworks or the tapping of an AR-15 or the roar of an engine is an unforgiveable sin, an invisible crime that has no written penalty but just unwritten consequences that are strongly and universally enforced. You are weird, and strange and “less than” and “not completely a man”, which translates as you are “not respected, not admired, not trusted and never going to be sexy by any means”. With women this means permanent detention to the dreaded “friend zone” and with other men this means that you are delegated to the children’s table at Thanksgiving or a similar sensation whenever you are in the presence of Alphas.
I am not sure if I always avoided those things or if the avoidance was learned from growing up with a reckless father whose drinking and driving made you afraid to get into a car with anyone and also made you afraid to be near anyone with a gun or a firecracker or a lighter or anything that could cause damage because reckless seemed to be the result of an intoxicant called testosterone. Being “manly” meant being loud, and careless, and self –absorbed, and stoic and proud of everything that doesn’t matter and absolutely negligent of the things that really do. So over time you never learn to revel in masculinity, in fact you learn to kind of be ashamed of it in a sense like the more ‘manly” you act the closer you are to becoming a drunk redneck getting into bar fights and wrecking your wife’s car. So you never take joy in everything loud and destructive and violent and painful and poisonous, you never learn how to fix and engine or load clean a deer rifle or mix drinks or skin a deer or what all of that foreign language of football really means.
His trauma was learned it seems, from a father who would grab him by the hair and drag him to the backseat if he dared to sit in the front seat, who taught him to swim by tossing him out of a boat and into a lake and who taught him to drive by knocking the car out of gear while it is going down a hill. A father who would give him a spanking for getting into a fight at school with 5 other boys not because he fought but because he failed to win. Then he went to Vietnam and came back an addict, to deal with the accumulated trauma I suppose and I suppose that his father was taught by “Shock and Awe” when he was growing up as well. My grandfather on my mother’s side had trauma from the invasion of D-Day which most of his best friends did not survive and lost their lives right in front of him in the most gruesome fashion imaginable, in a time before counseling for years on end and “talking about it”. He couldn’t watch a John Wayne movie about the war and would never ever say a word about it, he just cried when I joined the Air Force and told me to be careful out there and had fatherly advice for upcoming boot camp.
Trauma for me has also largely been associated with Loss. When I was 14 my Mother died who was almost my only stability, her mother who had “slightly mentally retarded” removed from my school records died when I was 5, her father who was my grandfather I lived with for 3 years died when I was studying in Europe, her sister who was my Aunt Helen died when I was 12 and her brother my Uncle Randy that inspired me to join the Air Force died while I was in military training. My father drowned when I was 15 but I pulled him out from under the water and did CPR then he died in a hospital 6 years later while I was in the Air Force, his father who built our log cabin died when I was 12, his mother that I lived with for about a year died when I was trying to make a go songwriting in Nashville and his brother died when I was in the military somewhere or the other. Then there are the divorces that take your children from you and the breakups and the sudden “I realized that I see you more as a brother”, “I just got carried away”, “You are so easy to talk to that I got more attached than I intended too” and the “Brian you are just too needt” and the ever popular “you are just so different and mysterious I just got drawn in, but you are too different, we are just too different”.
Every day can the potential to lose someone else. If someone is late that doesn’t mean they are late, it means they could have been in an awful car accident. If they don’t call back when they said they would it means one of the above phrases may be inevitable the next time you do talk to them, IF they didn’t just drop you cold turkey. When people are drunk around you this really escalates anxiety as well. After seeing a few drunk people pull knives on your dad or guns on each other, being in a crowded room full of them can place someone a little on the edge, especially if you are not sitting somewhere that you can see or get to the door.
Sometimes Physiology plays into Nervousness/Anxiety, as about 20 percent of the population is H.S.P. (Highly Sensitive Person) which is having a physiology that avoid overload which is the opposite of S.S.P. (Sensation Seeking Person) that seeks out overload like anyplace or anything that is loud, fast, bright, spicy and new. Elaine Aaron’s book “The Highly Sensitive Person” helped me understand myself a lot, as well as the book ‘Adult Children of Alcoholics” that explained why I always feel out of place never know what “normal” is or looks like. I am also an INFJ Personality type which is the rarest of the 16 types (we are only 1 percent of the American Population), since the “I” stands for “Introverted” we are very aware of people around us which makes social situations very draining and we tend to be Empaths (those that absorb the emotions of people around us, feel it to the point of painful as in a person in a rage can feel like a literal punch in the chest). I was finally diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder in the Military but only took the medication for a few weeks as it flat lines all of your emotions and also puts your creativity and ability to perceive others thoughts and emotions into a coma, it essentially blinds you to all that hurts but also to all that inspires and all that shines.
One of the most helpful phrases I have ever come across was discovered in an Al-Anon (Adult Children of Alcoholics) Meeting. The phrase is this “There is a God, and it is NOT me” and the prayer that goes with it “God, please help me to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the DIFFERENCE”. Amen 

Prayer for Those With Grenades In Their Garden
Warrior God
We ask you to Cleanse us of the blood on our Hands
We ask you to Ceasefire the War inside our Minds
We ask to you to Remind of All that we have Done
We ask to you Forgive Us for all that we Cannot
We ask you to Help us to Forgive Ourselves
We ask you to Hold those we have Left Behind in our Houses
We ask you to Welcome those we left Behind on our Battlefields
We ask you to bring us to a Palace of Peace
Instead of this Dungeon of Fear, Trapped in the Terrible Places we have Been
“Behold, it is Solomon’s traveling couch—
around it are sixty warriors from the warriors of Israel.
All of them wield a sword, experts in war.
Each man with his sword on his thigh against terrors of the night.”
Song of Songs 3:7

Resource: DNA Military with Marine Phil Downer
Resource: “Fear” Song by Blue October


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