Sunday, August 31, 2008

This and that....

It's been a very busy week. I'd hoped to be writing trenchant and witty aphorisms every couple of days, but that's just not who I am, I guess! In any event, I was actually "outside the wire" six of the past eight days (counting today), so that's been pretty exciting, even if fraught with lots of waiting around -- much of it while wearing body armor.

One time, when I was seated facing one of the gunners, the air coming in through the gunner's hatch was 109 degrees Fahrenheit. I only had to put up with that for a short time, but that poor kid endured it all day long during his shift.

The gunners seem pretty pleased to have a Chaplain on board, though with their helmets covering pretty much their whole head and face, and with the threshold-of-pain decibel level of the rotors and engine, I might just be engaged in wishful thinking....

It's been great to go elsewhere to do liturgy and meet folks who are living right in the midst of what's going on. Some of them really do have to put up with some great difficulties where they are, and they're doing so with dignity and good humor, from what I can tell.

I'd just be grumpy (well, grumpier), and sure that the sun is burning out, as my friend Annie L once wrote.

Shortly after I arrived here (four weeks ago yesterday -- there was a new moon again, right on cue), a young Soldier (well, given my age, they're ALL young -- even the Grand Poobahs are younger than me!) walked into our office and asked whether there were any AA meetings on post.

It turns out that I'm the 'subject matter expert' in that regard, and was able to tell him that I'd met some other Soldiers who go to meetings here Down Range, and was able to tell him when and where.

He was also looking for someone to help him in his journey of recovery and asked me if I'd do that for him. So, much to my surprise, I've wound up spending a great deal of time sharing my experience, strength, and hope with him (usually late into the evenings, like tonight, given our 12-hour-per-day work cycle), and that's proved to be a great blessing in my life.

He just celebrated 2 years being clean and sober, so I need to get hold of one of those coins my friends who go to AA talk about getting. I had a 24-hour 'chip' I'd been given at one point, so I palmed that to him at work the other day (Soldiers are given coins by commanders and senior NCOs in the same manner, it turns out), with the promise that I'd come up with a 'real' one soon.

He'd never gotten a 24-hour chip when he first started going to AA, so he told me he was pleased to get it.

It was a very difficult week, and I wound up attending my first memorial service as a result. That involved a ride that I'll elaborate upon at a later date. Please keep the Servicemembers over here in your prayers, if you'd be so kind, and if you're the praying type.

My Aunt Pat seems to be holding her own, so thank you for your prayers for her and her religious community. Aunt Loretta (not related to me by blood, but rather by intention) has put her job on hold and basically moved in to Aunt Pat's room in the hospital, so that one of her sisters is with her any time she wakes up.

Aunt Pat seems to recognize folks, and answers questions by nodding her head (the ventilator is still in, given that she has pneumonia). God definitely does for us what we cannot do for ourselves! Thanks for all your prayers for her!

It's been beastly hot this week, in addition to the blast furnace of a copter ride I mentioned earlier. On Wednesday, I think it was, the thermometer read 129 degrees Fahrenheit. That was one of the days SFC McG and I had to run around in full battle-rattle (all the body armor, plus helmet -- and gloves!) for longer than I care to remember.

The night we had a cookout to celebrate his birthday (and SFC M's birthday a couple of days later), we wound up eating outside, because it was only 102. Positively balmy.

Or perhaps we're just positively barmy....

In any event the sunrises and sunsets (and moonrises, when the moon's up) have been beautiful. Tonight the sun was a perfect orange orb glowing through the dust on the horizon -- just wonderful. I'm looking forward to the re-appearance of the moon in the next few days, because as it rises the quality of its light oozing through the dust in the air is magical.

It's really, really late now, and I have to be up fairly early. I'm missing being at home, but feeling content to be here right now, especially since my only hope of having conscious contact with a Higher Power is if I'm staying in the present moment.

Gratitude requires being in the now, as well, and I'm feeling very grateful for all the love in my life, and the new experiences being offered me.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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Steve C said...

Tim I have a nice 2 yr chip. Tell/email me where to send it.

Victoria Thorne said...

Blessings to you, Father Tim. Will be praying for all that you have mentioned. Peace be with you.

Luis Carlos Montalvan said...

Hi Padre,

Glad to hear you're enjoying the "heat." (laughing)

I'll never forget patrolling 16 hours a day in full battle rattle in 140 degrees in Anbar lovely climate.

The Iraqis didn't know how we did it and when one asked one of my men, he replied, "We take cool pills." They actually thought we did. If only...

I'm getting ready to resume classes for the fall semester. I'm looking forward to it. And, I'm planning a trip to Iran and Turkey to assess and help Iraqi refugees.

Love you,

olivere79 said...

Chaplain Meier,

Hope all is well, sir. This is Cadet Ennis (finally an MS II). We are all following how things are going over there and we miss you. We know you are there making a difference, sir.

-Cadet Ennis, MS II, Stanford University

Mary Coady said...

Glad to hear you've gotten outside the wire and are starting to do the work that you have so wanted to do. Hope SFC McG had a wonderful b'day and b'day celebration in the balmy 102 degree weather, and SFC M did as well.

We prayed for your Aunt Pat at Mass today and hope for her continued recovery. And we miss you a lot and pray for you and your guardian angel SFC McG.


Randy Jones said...

Hi, Fr Tim--
I'm one who is older than you! And I've seen the sun set (and rise) through the thick dust of the desert. And my life-long buddy is a recovering alcoholic who has been clean and sober for more than 22 years now. So we have some points of connection... in addition to being brothers in Christ. Hang in there, my brother/father, and come back to us soon.

billc said...

Tim, this is Bill Cleveland in Los Angeles. I got caught up on your blogs and was very touched by the humanity of your writing style. It is wonderful how you can find the humanity in a place that many assume to be inhumane. It reminded me that there are real people over there doing their best to hang on to their spiritual nature in the middle of the insanity of war. I know that you help them with that as you have helped me on several retreats. An instrument of God's will in military mufti!

My heart is with you.


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