Private Jack Cooney was propped up in his bed in hospital. His mood was black. At a mere 21, he felt he had already reached the autumn of his life. His future had gone in the instant it took for the enemy explosive device to mangle his legs and shred his hopes and spirits. He’d tried to come to terms with his situation, but daily his thoughts descended further into the darkest despair.
He had not seen this Chaplain before. He watched as he walked slowly down the ward. Greying hair, maybe 65-ish, slightly stooped, walking with the aid of a stick. Not in uniform; probably too old. He stopped by various beds, trying to avoid interference with the ward staff.
Jack looked away as he approached, not in the mood for bible-thumping, but he heard the footsteps stop at the base of his bed.
‘Hello, Mr Cooney. You look as though you need cheering up.’
Jack’s frown deepened. ‘Sorry Padre. I’m not in religious mood.’
The Chaplain did not smile but inclined his head towards where Jack’s legs should have been.
‘That doesn’t help. I understand and won’t keep you. I’ll simply leave you with a thought. You won’t remember this, but when I was a boy there was a popular song called ’Turn, turn, turn’. It seemed to mean something to youngsters of your age. Here are a couple of lines from the end; ‘A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.’
Jack nodded. ‘It rings a bell.’
The Chaplain continued, ‘These words are from the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes.’ He smiled quietly. ‘You’ve had your time for war and now you’re in the middle of your time for hate. Now it’s time for peace in your heart and a time to find love for yourself and for life. It’s a hard path, I know because I have been down it myself.’ He rapped his legs with his walking stick and Jack was startled by the loud ceramic knock it produced.
‘It was called ‘The Falklands Conflict.’’