Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Christmas Eve turned out to be a 22-hour day, beginning at 0300 when I dragged my sorry butt out of bed to get ready for an all-day mission by convoy that took me to three different places, all muddy. I'll try to get a photo up soon which might give some indication of what "muddy" over here means.

Tromping through the mud (we, naturally, had to park at perhaps the farthest point away from where I was going, at each place) was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before, but those of you who've experienced the delights of Iraqi mud know whereof I speak.

Since I was traveling with others who graciously included SFC McG and me in their convoy after our air travel was cancelled due to bad weather, I was under more than a bit of a time constraint to minister to my Catholic Soldiers in an abbreviated fashion. Fortunately, at least for me, "abbreviated" does not mean "unprayerful"! We prayed and sang up a storm (why is it, though, that I've been sent to the most 'musically challenged' group of people I've ever encountered?), and celebrated Christmas in a war zone.

As I moved from place to place, the mud and muck and stones would stick to the bottoms -- and sides and tops -- of my boots, making the experience a real workout. Besides being heavy, the mud is very, very, very -- did I mention, very? -- slick.

As the mud accumulated, I grew in stature several inches. My center of gravity also moved upward, and I was constantly on the verge of losing my balance. It felt as though I were on ice skates, except for the whole slipping sideways without any warning thing. The combination of slick mud, potholes, vehicles careening by, and the need for haste made for some measure of stress.

I would not have a chance to change my clothes before doing Christmas Eve Mass for my "parish" back at the ranch once I returned, and I'd managed to leave my alb back in the office, so if I were to fall into the muck and mire, I'd be saying Christmas Eve Mass looking much more disheveled than I normally do!

It's easy to see how shower shoes could get lost forever on the way to or from the shower facility when there's this kind of mud around. I see you weren't exaggerating, Jason. (I suspect that might be a first....)

Fortunately for me, I managed to get done what needed doing, not cause delays for my hosts who were chaufferring me around the battlespace, and most of my uniform stayed as clean as can be expected in this kind of environment. Christmas Eve Mass at my "parish" was great, especially after our singing carols for a half-hour beforehand.

Now I'm off to repeat the day.

More later.

Merry Christmas!

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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