Friday, August 15, 2008


One day this past week the water died while I was in the shower, and then the power went out when I got back to my CHU (containerized housing unit). I was soapy and it was 114 degrees out.

The next day SFC McG and I were at another base, and the dust in the air prevented the helicopters from coming back to get us, so we wound up being there 72 hours, rather than just four.

I, of course, had not packed an overnight bag. It's well over 100 degrees during the day, and only gets down to the high 80s or low 90s at night. No change of clothes.

Do the math.

It didn't help that the reception we received from certain Officer-types was less than gracious. (Rudeness is so last-year, but they seem not to have gotten the memo.)

However, two Junior Enlisted took as good care of us as they could, given their low-rung occupancy in the feeding chain. They embodied the Army Value of "selfless service" and I'm very grateful for their kindnesses.

(Again I found myself wishing there'd been a way to do this Chaplain thing as an Enlisted...)

In any event, I've had lots of time to reflect up the various dependencies in my life these days: water for showering, electricity for air conditioning, good weather for getting "home" when I've been able to get outside the wire, the kindness of strangers (that'd make a good line for a work of great literature, eh?).

And let's not even speak of this stupid internet connection ($65/month) that's so slow it can take me an hour to download one email message if it includes an attachment!


My life is more or less unmanageable depending upon how I deal with the various dependencies in it. Fortunately, over the years, I've known many friends who go to lots of AA and Al-Anon and other 12-Step meetings, and across-the-board they've told me that the most effective way to deal with a dependency is to admit it, accept it, and work a spiritual program surrounding it.

That plan of action certainly seems to work well concerning dependencies on alcohol and other mood-altering chemicals and behaviors. Friends who go to Al-Anon meetings have told me that same plan can work when dealing with other, non-life-threatening dependencies as well.

Go figure.

So when the water stops flowing in the shower, or the air conditioner in the CHU stops working and it's 114 degrees out and the CHU heats up like a convection oven (in about as much time), or the aircraft aren't picking us up (but they are flying others to where *they* need/want to go) and it's the third day without putting on clean clothes, or the internet connection simply refuses to connect with the mail server for the eleventy-seventh time, it's time to recognize the dependency for what it is, and remember that my ultimate dependency is upon a Higher Power who cares for me and is lacking none of the essential skill sets necessary to deal with whatever mess I've gotten myself into now.

Rather than throwing temper tantrums (despite how satisfying they can be, in some perverse way) and choosing to have a bad day/week /month/lifetime because of how wronged/put-upon/victimized I am, I can choose to believe that my Higher Power can handle the situation, and that I deserve better than to add more unmanageability into the mix than is already there.

I eventually rinsed the soap off, the air conditioning came back on, we got back "home," and I got a shower and some clean clothes.

The internet is still crappy, however.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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