Friday, July 10, 2009


Many years ago now my path crossed that of a young man who was an ROTC Cadet. This was long before I ever imagined I would be a member of the United States Army. I was impressed by his military bearing and his natural intelligence (which means I probably wondered at why he was joining the Army -- shows you where *my* mindset was in those days, and how surprising it is that I am where I am these days!).

Over the years I lost track of where he was, but just after I was accessioned into the Army, we became reacquainted. By this time enough time had elapsed that he was out of the Army and into a profession that suited him well.

We actually met at a funeral of someone I didn't even know, as it turns out.

God is a bit weird in that way, I've found.

Like many former military, my friend had developed some rather significant substance abuse problems, and the physical changes in him were distressing, if not frightening. Heartbreaking doesn't begin to capture the experience.

One of his really good friends from his days in ROTC was there, and he was clean and sober and going to a lot of AA meetings at the time. I suspect it might have seemed as if this other guy and I were 'double-teaming' him throughout the weekend. But about a month later, my friend called to say that he was newly sober and going to AA meetings.

As can often be the case with very intellectually gifted addicts, my friend eventually slacked off on going to meetings, and began to drink again. Just before I shipped out to Iraq I spoke with him as he was struggling to regain his sobriety and serenity.

I tried to stay in touch with him as best I could throughout my deployment; there was no way for people without a government phone to call me, as my cell phone didn't work over there, so he couldn't call me. He made courageous decisions over the last year: to go into treatment, to move to a half-way house afterward (instead of returning home to wife and children), to get a 'sponsor' in AA and really follow that person's lead, to go to lots and lots of AA meetings, and to get back into even better physical condition than he'd been in when still in uniform.

He celebrated a year clean and sober this past weekend.

Hooray for the Higher Power!

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Yes Fr. Tim, it works, it really works...when we work it!! Spirit hugs to you both...

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