The first time I got to go outside the wire here at Camp, SPC C and I went out with the Chaplain whom I'm replacing and his Chaplain Assistant. It's very odd for me, having been in Iraq this past year, to go off-Post without wearing full battle-rattle.
I'd never have dreamed of doing such a thing Down Range!
But here we just have to have it with us, ready to don at a moment's notice. But we don't have to wear it. Very odd, indeed.
And liberating, I must say!
CH C suggested that SPC C drive, since he's new to the area and will probably be doing much of the driving once we're on our own. He did extremely well, given the condition of the roads (horrible) and the actions of the other drivers (even worse).
I'm grateful I know simple prayers like the Serenity Prayer my friends who go to AA and Al-Anon meetings have taught me. They come in very handy over here, I've already found out.
It turns out that the Church of the Black Madonna is in our AO (area of operations), and was our last stop on Monday before returning to Camp. The church building, which has been around for centuries, in one form or another, has become rather famous of late because young Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu prayed there, and had spiritual experiences which led this girl from Skopje, Macedonia (across the mountains from this site) to become Mother Teresa.
It's a beautiful building, with great acoustics. (I couldn't resist singing a bit of a Psalm while I was there; we were the only people present.) The nave is actually a bit smaller than I'd imagined, but that shouldn't have surprised me. The church sits quite high up in the mountains, and definitely off the beaten path.
Once I get internet access for my laptop, I'll post some photos of the place and the surrounding countryside. It's breathtakingly beautiful.
The ride back to Camp was breathtaking, too, but for entirely different reasons.
Blessings and peace to one and all,
Fr. Tim, SJ