Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A chance meeting

While traveling recently, I wound up getting bumped from the plane I was scheduled for, along with a couple dozen other Soldiers. The Army put us up at the local Sheraton Grand, which wasn't bad, all things considered. The bed was actually the most comfortable bed I've slept in for a long time.

My roommate was a young Infantryman who's been serving in Afghanistan during this deployment. He served in Iraq his first time in combat. He joined the Army because he couldn't find a job after high school, and has decided he wants to go to school on the Montgomery G.I. Bill when he leaves Active Duty late this summer.

SPC P and I spent quite a bit of time talking. I was actually surprised by this, given the football games that were on at the time, and the presence of a very large flat-screen TV in the hotel room. I overheard him telling someone on the phone that his credit card had been declined (he figured his younger brother had gotten hold of the number and was attempting to use it online), and that he was out of cash.

At the three meals we ate while in the hotel, he did most of the talking, and much of our conversation concerned his experiences in combat. He was especially concerned about the 'gallows humor' he shared with his buddies during some very difficult engagements.

I assured him that the attempt to normalize an absolutely abnormal situation did not constitute any sort of pathology, given that the 'gallows humor' did not involve any otherwise inappropriate behavior. It's what we human beings often need to do in order to survive psychically. He seemed to relax visibly, and his whole demeanor brightened.

After we turned out the light at night, he said, "Thank you, Sir. You've really helped me a lot today."

I felt great gratitude to God for being able to be of service to him. He's just 21 years old, and has been through two long combat deployments already. He's going back to a very difficult and dangerous place for the rest of this tour.

I slipped some money into his backpack when he wasn't looking before we went our separate ways.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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Anonymous said...

Hello Father Tim:

I stumbled upon your blog and it has been very helpful for me, giving me tools to stop worrying so much about my son's deployment. I have to admit that I'm a very skeptical Christian, but I want to develop my spiritual growth. Can you please suggest some books that would be helpful to those of us at this point in our lives?

cptdrfrtim said...


Please drop me a line at cptdrfrtim a t g m a i l d o t com (sorry for the odd way of writing it; one needs to try to keep spambots at bay). I'll probably better be able to suggest something(s) for you once we're in contact. Blessings! Fr. Tim, SJ

1776 said...

Make me are an awesome man.
That young Soldier will never forget you.

Anonymous said...

I have been inhalin gyour blog since I found it. I had to go to the beginning and start there as I didn't want to miss anything. That young man found you as great a blessing as you found him.

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