Confehr: Morning sun clears early fog for us all

Friday, February 5, 2010

Driving east to Lewisburg before the snow, there was a tranquil calm before the well-predicted storm.

An invisible breeze rolling over the ridge pushed a farmhouse stove fire's smoke northward and parallel to the ground.

Sunlight beyond the horizon illuminated the cloud ceiling, implying a bright day, even though our modern monitoring devices warned of that larger weather system to the west.

In these small south central Tennessee towns, insights on the rest of the world have revealed themselves in their small ways.

Most recently, a Christmas Eve conversation with a combat veteran here included his realization that Iraqis worship the brother of the babe born 2010 years ago. That brother, they apparently believe, turned out to become their prophet, now worshipped by our far-flung enemies. And as we now know since 9-11, they are even closer because of technologies developed by our brothers, sisters, parents and friends.

In another county seat to the northeast of Lewisburg, there was a Catholic family with sons studying at the state university. They'd all left their homeland where the father was the vice president for the branch offices of the Iraqi national bank. It was a less prestigious vice presidency compared to that of the vice president of the bank's headquarters. He did, however, account for much more money because the many small branches conducted much more business than the headquarters.

When America's military invaded Baghdad on the command of George H.W. Bush, I sat with that former Iraqi banker and his family watching CNN's live coverage of the invasion. They recognized parts of their city and watched to see if our bombs struck their home.

They didn't.

The Iraqis explained the house had a huge mural depicting a Bible scene. The implication was that the hand of God protected the house they believed could not shelter them again because of the dictator America has now fought twice, captured and sent to trial. Saddam Hussein, of course, has since been hanged for his crimes.

Months later, CNN's vice president for news spoke at the state university. Told of the night when his audience was huge, he bet that their faith couldn't be swayed to admit man-made guided missiles might have deliberately avoided their home.

But they allowed that perhaps their real estate was left untouched because our war technicians and their tools were that good. Perhaps their faith extended the hand of providence into a soldier's glove.

Now, some 3,300 Tennessee National Guard soldiers are being deployed to Iraq. The veteran who spoke of Jesus' brother has wondered about the origins of our nation when our forefathers fought an occupying force that was over taxing the colonies. The economic facts of the two wars are different, as are the motives.

Perhaps that will be proved by our leaders who use our neighbors to finish what's now a training mission, transfer control and come home to where the morning sun burns off an early fog.