The Path of Dan

In contemplation of the murder of one of my mentors, community development coordinator Dan Terry, in Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan, after a medical expedition to Nuristan. He and his wife, with their three daughters, served across political, ethnic, and religious boundary lines through a monarchy, a dictatorship, two Communist coups, a Soviet invasion, a mujahedeen civil war, the Taliban, and the current fragile Western-backed government.

Dan worked alongside Afghan communities to develop self-sustaining creative projects for thirty-nine years, serving in regions that included the Hazarajat (of which the city of Bamiyan, mentioned below, is the capital; the ruins of the “City of the Screams,” destroyed by Genghis Khan, lie outside it), as well as Balkh, Kabul, Kunar, Laghman, Nuristan, and Badakhshan, where he was killed along with another mentor Tom Little and eight others on 5 August 2010.

The poem is written in A/B/A/B rhyme scheme with lines alternating roughly eight and seven syllables each.

Friend your true name is Abraham
Though Dan Terry you were born
For you walked about a dry land
Seeing more than earth war-torn

Land of Sorrows I have called it –
Bamiyan’s “City of the Screams” –
But quite differently you saw it
Through you, God dreamed His dreams

Dreams developed by your fingers
Dreams developed by your hands
And the work you did, it lingers
Who will grasp unfinished strands?

Who will finish what you started?
Who will pick up where you led?
Dan Terry, you have departed
Who will walk the path you’ve tread?

“Love your neighbor, love your neighbor”
Following the Golden Rule
This you did, Dan, without waver
Be the neighbor good or cruel

To be “Muslim” means “submitted”:
You were truly one of them
Model Afghan, guilt-acquitted
By surrendered trust in Him

And like the first true pilgrim –
Abraham, God’s chosen friend –
You submitted, wand’ring, winsome
And believed Him to the end

You believed that even barest
Dark Afghanistan would yield
An incomparable harvest:
Heaven’s life on earth revealed

You were called a “logistician”
By the earnest journalist
But in truth were a physician
Whose long suffering was grist

Healing hearts of disposition
That sees promises as vain
And fulfilling heaven’s vision
Through your perseverance, pain.

You are hiking in the mountains
Further up and further in
While I endure the constraints
Of shadowland and sin.

Dan you’re breathing faultless pure air
(What a view it all must be!)
I shall find your path and start there
Sowing seeds that set men free.

~ km

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  • Hilja says:

    I found my way to your page through a review you left on the Full Focus page about the LifeFocus course and your name rang a bell as did your cryptic mention in the review of living and working in the East. Thank you for this poem, and the many others here. Your references resonated. Dad always talked about his beloved HJat being Narnia. Further up and further in indeed.

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