Friday, October 16, 2009

The Cloak of Love

When I first got home from Iraq, I met up with a friend of mine who's gone to a lot of AA meetings over the past twenty years or so. While I was Down Range, he was diagnosed with cancer, and had had a pretty harrowing time of it. He was gaunt and wan and looked very frail.

When he went to those meetings, I'm led to believe, he'd often speak about a "Cloak of Love" that God would throw over the shoulders of any alcoholic wandering through the doors of Alcoholic Anonymous. I guess this is something that his sponsor Quint used to speak of. Quint died sober before I ever got to know John.

John died since I started this mobilization to Kosovo.

I've been thinking about him and about his "Cloak of Love" lately. Earlier this week, my unit received three Red Cross messages. The Red Cross lets military personnel know when something important and often difficult has happened back home.

As the Chaplain, I get called in when the Red Cross messages contain particularly sad-making news.

I like to think the the Chaplain's presence at those times is one of the ways that God throws a "Cloak of Love" around the individuals who are stunned, confused, hurting, bereft -- in much the same way as John spoke about God throwing a cloak over bedraggled alcoholics showing up at a meeting.

I recently finished the Harry Potter series again, and realized that Quint's "Cloak of Love" is just the opposite of the invisibility cloak left to Harry by his father. Instead of rendering one unseeable, Quint's "Cloak of Love" reveals the innermost workings of the human heart, something which can be really terrifying to a person who's been schooled in "sucking it up."

Just the other day, too, I was on my way with a purpose, and was stopped by a prior-service individual whose military history contains some very courageous and scary stuff. He spontaneously opened up to me concerning his life and family which took my breath away, in that he'd not mentioned it to anyone else since before he joined the military.

As he unburdened himself of this secret, it seemed as though he'd put on Quint's "Cloak of Love," and became truly visible, truly vulnerable.

In my experience, this is the stuff of miracles.

It's what I'm here for.

I suspect it's how God throws a "Cloak of Love" about my shoulders.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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