Thursday, January 29, 2009

A day in the life....

My sleep cycle remains completely unpredicatable. This has been happening more and more as I've aged.

Like a fine whine.

I mean, "wine."

After almost eight hours of sleep the night before, I was feeling marginally OK the other day. I got through my day on post just fine, doing paperwork, chatting up Soldiers, going to lunch and dinner with friends: the usual. I looked forward to another good night's sleep as the day was winding down.

Then I got a phone call from someone who wondered whether I might be able to pray with him later that evening.

Remembering the previous night's eight hours of sleep led me to agree to celebrate Mass for that Soldier, even knowing that he usually shows up about an hour or more later than we schedule. We agreed to meet at 2130, and true to form we started about 2230. By the time we chatted about what was going on in his life, Down Range and back home, Mass finished up about 2345.

I love saying Mass, and get quite energized when I do so. (That's probably a good reason NOT to begin Mass when it's already close to midnight, I guess, but....)

Much to my chagrin, I was wide awake until 0215. Moreover, I found myself wide awake again at 0445. Sigh.

I turned on the computer, and discovered a couple of Soldier friends of mine were online, so I wound up chatting with each for a while. One, SPC C (of whom I've written before), is getting ready to return home fairly soon, and the other SSG M, recently went through a very difficult breakup in his relationship while he was home on leave.

Amazing how useful the principles of Al-Anon, which my friends who go to a lot of those meetings keep trying to teach me, prove to be when I'm in conversation with people who are experiencing lots of powerlessnesses in their lives. If I can remember to breathe, and to be gentle with myself, I'm often much better able to handle whatever is going on.

For example:

Recently I was talking with a Soldier who was pretty frustrated with his wife back home, because she was worried about finances, constantly. "Why can't she just 'get it' that I have always provided her and the children with everything they need, and that I will continue to do so, no matter what?" he fumed.

I replied, "Perhaps she's reacting less to the finances than to a deeper need. Sure, you're providing for them *financially*, but what if they *need* you to be around? You're giving them everything they need -- except your presence in their day-to-day lives. I remember you telling me that you'd missed four of your five-year-old son's birthdays now."

He looked stunned. His face, which had seemed righteously indignant as he had been complaining, suddenly appeared crestfallen.

"Wow. I never thought of it that way," he whispered.

"I thought not," I replied. "Now that you have some insight into what might be behind her reaction to the situation, why not come up with some creative way to let her know how much you love and miss her?"

He seemed even more discouraged, and scowled. "How am I going to do that, when she is so upset about money all the time? When I sent her flowers from over here, thinking she'd like them, she was angry they'd cost over $100."

"Well, that's where it's important to be as creative as possible," I countered. "What about calling up a friend of hers, having her get a nice box of chocolates to bring to your wife from you, and having the friend take your wife out to a movie or something? Won't cost much -- you can PayPal the friend the money -- and should indicate that you put some measure of thought and effort into the operation. Win, win, in my book."

He brightened immediately. "She really loves See's Chocolates," he said. His brow furrowed as he continued, "Now, what's the name of her friend? I can't believe my brain is so muddled... Oh yeah!" He took out his notebook, and began to write furiously.

He looked up and said, somewhat sheepishly, "So much for spontaneity, but if I don't write this down, I'll forget all this completely. Thanks, Father."

"You're welcome, my son."

(He outranks me by several pay grades, so I just love saying that.)

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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Anonymous said...

Hopefully female friend there pastor. SEG

cptdrfrtim said...

"...What about calling up a friend of hers, having her get a nice box of chocolates to bring to your wife from you..."

I had thought that by writing "having *her* get a nice box of chocolates" that might have indicated a female friend.

Perhaps there's a different way of communicating this in Ohio?


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