The surge has hit our base, and Reservists and National Guard from all over are here for training and awaiting deployment.
I notice it most especially on Sundays, because the pews at mass are filled with people in ACUs. There they sit, quiet and well behaved. They pray more than most of us. They are quick to run out and help the elderly retirees with mobility issues down the aisle. They shake my hand and say, "Peace be with you," with the added undercurrent of a fervent wish. They call my son, "Little Man" and compliment him on his hair. Sometimes they tell me about their sons or daughters at home - they miss them so much.
I understand that not everyone finds solace in my religion, or in any religion for that matter. It is so important, though, that we - and they - find something that gives meaning to our lives.
We attend base chapel not because it is the closest parish to our house, but because seeing all those people in uniform - ready to go, ready to do- reminds me every single week what my priorities should be. I find it hard to kneel and pray for more money, or a nice vacation, or fewer Mother-in-Law issues (although to be fair, her dementia makes it about as difficult as a MIL relationship can be for me) when I see this Band of Brothers and Sisters talking to God before they ship out. Whatever has been irking me for the week, whatever I wanted to say to God, generally falls by the wayside as the only thing that comes to my mind is, "Dear Lord, please keep them in your heart. Please protect and guide them. Please always let them know how much they are loved and appreciated."
every week resets my perspective. It keeps me humble. It reminds me that the world is not all about me and my wants, but that I am needed as a part of something bigger than myself.
My husband's last deployment was the first deployment during which I attended services at a base chapel. Somehow, being surrounded by stained glass windows like this:
made it easier. I felt at home. What a treasure this was for me and my children!
Our chapel is home to many different religions and denominations. We all share the same building and the same stained glass. That, I think, is a uniquely military phenomenon - that there can be so many people of such varied religious creeds in one place helping each other. I noticed several times that the Chaplains Assistant who helped set up for mass was Jewish. I noticed several community members of various denominations (including myself) attending the Pesach. The lobby literature has information for Christians and Jews, Muslims and Buddhists, Hindus and many others.
We have more important things to worry about than vociferous argument over creed. Those men and women need us. They REALLY need us, and not our angry words.
And I am reminded of that every Sunday.