To the Souls and Saints

“You carry all of the Saints of the Church in there with you. You know that right?” She sat across my desk, her expression serious but her eyes bright. Sister Carole is one of the Chaplains I work with and see and meet regularly. I was telling her that I had a big meeting the next morning. All of the highest people in the organization would be there, to talk about an incident on my unit. I had been anxious. Stressed. But those words woke in me a memory of a teacher. Of brothers and sisters. Of Tribe and trial.

“Every time you draw your blade, ten thousand hands draw their blade with you.” Guro Dr. Bob had said it when we were in our first location. We listened quietly and I deeply moved me. I would hear it directly from The Source through the years following. Pamana Tuhon Sayoc reminded us that this art, his art came from a lineage and series of generations before us that linked to bind us. Through time and through space. To guide us and inform us. Some had passed, sometimes at great cost to teach us through the blade. We hold, as he did, these stories and the spirit of those in the past who penetrate this time through Pamana Tuhon’s thoughts, words and actions. All of those in our brotherhood hold his words, his stories deep in our hearts. And we are stronger because of him. Because of us. We can still hear his voice.

When I was younger I was a huge fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In one of the older stories, the four infiltrated an ancient home in Japan to aid a young descendant of a long line of Samurai tradition. Near the end of the issue, the turtles were engaged in battle and could not rescue the young man. Suddenly he reacted with full knowledge and skill that he did not know existed inside of him. There was a moving series of panels where he used a rock as a projectile and empty hand skills against well trained assassins, and ultimately culminating with an image of his Samurai ancestors passing their spirit and strength to him.

I would never have known it then, but it has been a privilege of my life to have been the recipient of knowledge, skill and story from all of my teachers in martial arts. To have a career that continues a tradition of men and women literally saving lives every day. And to belong to a communion of Saints whose lives continue to inspire and pray. As our afterlife is not bound by the properties of time, all of these who have given their lives in the past continue to do so in the present. The ten thousand hands that carried our tradition will extend to our future selves through time and place. And the faithful, the loyal departed that were once with us will soon be us and with us. To the teachers and mentors. The nurses and brothers. To the Souls and Saints.

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