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A Light in the Darkness


Darkness can be described by the lack of illumination or the absence of light. 

The human eye is unable to distinguish between colors as there is less and less light

until eventually, it identifies nothing at all. No matter how wide you open your eyes, 

or how hard you try and force yourself to see something, if there is no light at all, 

there is only darkness.

In that darkness, we find ourselves with a heightened level of fear, fear of the unknown. What is in the dark? What is now missing that you could see before? What do you feel here now that wasn’t visible then? Fear of the unknown, wishing the light would come again quickly, which in some cases can feel like an eternity. It can feel like it will remain dark forever. 

The darkness described here might be comparable to the feeling that some veterans experience when they leave their military service. What we share here is often photos of smiling faces, peace, laughter, and joy, which is truly an incredible experience, and what we hope veterans experience while here at House in the Woods. However, those photos don’t show the feelings that veterans are experiencing in their every day life, which is the real reason they are here to begin with.

It is true that not all veterans are suffering from depression, PTSD, TBI or other disabilities of that nature, but many will share with you that after leaving the military they have felt the longing and loneliness that remains when you leave the military.

The darkness may be that feeling of being alone, even though the world “sees” that a veteran has “a good life, a nice family, or a good job”. What we try to share with the rest of the world through our photos and videos is that though they all be VETERANS and MILITARY HEROES, each person carries with them a very unique story and journey. Each person comes from a unique background, family history, and journey leading them into the military, and each one had a unique experience while serving our country. Sometimes we only see darkness because we have our heads hung low, depressed, and unsure of what the future holds. 

However, if we can reach military men and women, and bring them with us on a journey to

discovering the healing qualities of spending time in the great outdoors, with other veterans, we can try and help them SEE the light. We can help them raise their head upward, to see that though it seems dark, there is a glimmer of light on the horizon. If you can focus on the here and now, the peace of the present moment, you may be able to see that this far-off light is shining on things around it, that there is hope, and there is beauty in the darkness too. 

Something that most don’t SEE when looking at our photos is the LIGHT that a veteran may

experience when spending time at our retreats, or just spending time at the lodge. The discovery that there is hope for the future. What you may see when you look deep into the faces of these men and women is the look that says they FEEL appreciation, love, and gratitude for what they have sacrificed, what they have been through. 

These moments are often not in photo or video, they are in the quiet moments of a conversation between two veterans, while they sit quietly in a blind out in the woods, or on a walk up to Joel’s memorial bench here at the lodge, where they sit quietly with Joel and talk through their struggles or pray through them in silence. Those moments are different for each and everyone.

The beauty of the darkness can be seen here in this photo, taken by Mike Kalinowski in the North Maine Woods while working with Mike Thurlow as they guide Purple Heart Combat Wounded Veteran Jack Goodroe from Texas on a Veteran moose hunt retreat this week.

In this quiet little place, far off in the woods with no electricity, service or running water, you’ll

find more CONNECTION than in any big city. Here’s a group of friends tucked away getting

back to the basics, working together, and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

What you think they’re doing is just hunting for moose, but what they are in search of has nothing to do with hunting at all. 

With or without the moose, this retreat is already a success. 

They have found light in the darkness. 

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