Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Box Of Non Stop Half Time Time Out!

Transitions are never easy; especially when they are related to deployments. Because war is an ongoing event you can't just call a time out so the guys that have been here can pack up and go home while the guys that will replace them get unpacked and set up shop. Still, that is exactly what must happen but without actually calling a time out. Imagine a basketball game where each side had not 5 players but about 43. And imagine that they were required to switch players, all of them, at half time. And imagine that only one team took half time while the other team continued to play. Wouldn't be much of a break for the half time team, would it? That's transition in war. We call it a RIP. It's one of a billion and twelve acronyms in the Army and it stands for Relief In Place. It is often confusing and frustrating because the other team doesn't take a half time. So the game gets handed off to the next group while ensuring everything keeps getting done. And in the middle of the madness you have to look for anything you can to hang your sanity on so that you don't get trampled by the guys running onto the court, or they guys running off, or the guys on the other team who refuse to take a half time. And when you find that sanity hanger it is almost like you are on the court by yourself. Pure bliss!

There is an old saying that I recently created. "Hell hath no fury like how cool my Mom and Dad are!" I'm not real big on dragging my family out into the open for scrutiny but this time I just can't help it. After all, my sanity is at stake. it happened like this...

In the course of my duties as a brigade chaplain I often "make my rounds". That is, I walk from office to office, place to place, person to person and build relationships with whoever I find. "How are you today?" I might ask. "How's the family?" I query. "Is that thing real!?" I muse! Just getting to know people and letting them know their chaplain loves them is the quickest way to get into their hearts and minds in the hopes that someday "I might win some." One of the people I try to visit, not because of what he can offer me but because he is one of my "Joes", is the postal clerk. He has a thankless job handing out letters and packages often confined to a small office with little more than boxes and envelopes to keep him company. So today I ventured into his cardboard and paper world to shake his hand, look him in the eye, and tell him that despite what others might think, I think he's doing a great job of handing out letters and packages. As I did so, I got a pleasant little surprise; a hanger for my sanity if you will. SGT Mail Clerk shook my hand, looked me in the eye and said, "Sir, I have a package for you." In a deployed environment this is like saying, "Sir, I have a pile of cash for you!" It was a simple box but it was packed with happiness.

I received my box with joy and within 5 seconds knew this was no ordinary box. Certainly it was mere paper and tape and inside were a whole bunch of little Styrofoam peanuts. But there was a treasure buried therein. It was, and still is (partially) a 32 ounce box of See's Famous Old Time Candies. For the Russell Stover fans out there or others who may not have heard of See's just imagine gold and diamonds were delicious and edible. That's See's...only crunchier. There were, and partially are, a variety of chocolates and chews in that little cubicle of confectionary candification. Bordeaux! Molasses Chips! Yummy chewy caramel thingys! MMMMMMMM! Chocolate!

So here I sit, firmly enthroned in my own little corner of the war enjoying some of the greatest chocolates in the world thanks to the greatest Mom and Dad in the world.

It's half time so I think I'll pour another cup of coffee and inundate my system with joy.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all you are doing. During my last deployment, it was those Pennsylvania Tasty Cakes helped me push through. Sometimes I think the parents, the inlaws and the grandparents do more for morale in these conflicts than we can ever give them credit.

CH Carleton B.

Jon & Ashley McP said...

Sounds like you are having so much fun - I am glad to be stuck in Alaska with your amazing family!

Cami said...

This I understand...out here in what has been the "frozen north" this winter in Michigan, not only have we been living very "Alaskan," but we don't have Sees candy, either! So, when my dad sent me a box on Valentine's Day...well, I must say it went shamefully fast (after it thawed). :)

Daily prayers always on their way for you, your family and your troops.

Liz said...

Agreed! My mom's packages sustained me the whole year I was in Iraq. Not the food, because we had plenty of that, but the package from afar that reminded me that someone at home didn't forget about me. Be safe Chaplain and come home soon.

Jackie said...

I used to send out five packages a week to my ex-husband and his soldiers because I knew that one of his soldiers was not eating in the "chow hall" (I wouldn't want to eat after standing next to a sewage ditch while waiting in line, either!)so I made sure he was supplied with micro meals, and just sending him some body wash (he didn't have access to a PX during OIF 1) and any kind of candy was cause for a 4th of July celebration!! Things have gotten easier over there as the Army has had time to add facilities, but nothing can replace that special treat from home!!