So where am I and what am I doing? I find myself as I type this in, perhaps, the most remote place in all of the continental US: 29 Palms CA – about to embark on 28 days of training that will prepare our Marines for deployment to Afghanistan in support of OEF. I think they lied about the palm trees in all honesty I haven’t seen one yet, let alone 29. You know you have a nice yard out here when the dirt is raked.
If you look down you get depressed:
If you look up you’re moved beyond words at the grandeur of this place.
It’s desolate but not too hot yet. I hear April is the perfect month to experience this training. There really isn’t anything that a Chaplain has to do here. In all honesty there are very few measurables for Chaplains period. My CO told me once that he has no idea what I do or how I do it, but it’s working and keep doing it. How do you quantify or qualify that? In reality, you can’t in human terms. I’m necessary because HE is necessary. I bring peace, joy, comfort, truth, accountability, mercy, grace . . . you get the point. My presence more than my words are HIS tools to reach men at the end of all things who are living in conditions and doing things that most of us could never stomach. I would argue they understand life, these 20-year-olds, far better than most of us who have lived far longer. And for that reason I find myself in the middle of the California desert with no real agenda, other than to be light and salt to the Marines of 3/6.
Things I’ve done recently:
- Got flipped over in a HMV and a MATV simulation (basically a hummer and a van, of sorts)
- Showed up at 10pm to wait for buses at 1am to take us to our flight which took off at 8am
- Broke just about every single FFA flight rule (we flew on a chartered delta flight, and I was surrounded by men with guns, some of them had two not to be out done, I had over 6floz of toiletries in my carry on)
- Flew first class for the first time in my life (the random “would you like a hot towel” comment threw me off-guard)
- And now I find myself living in the Road Runners back yard (and I’m told I can’t pet the turtles, they blow up or something)
Gotta run, need chow and someone is going to warn us about the environment – apparently there’s a desert around here somewhere, but I just see a bunch of sand.
In His Grips