Friday, February 03, 2012

Remembering Colleagues

Over the years, I have periodically noted a Lesser Feast in the Episcopal Calendar. I have done that most commonly when the person remembered was involved in healthcare ministry in one way or another - the Martyrs of Memphis, or Damien and Marianne of Molokai.

Today is also a day to remember colleagues in specialized ministry. They were not in healthcare, at least not explicitly. However, they were ministering in difficult circumstances, and they gave up their lives for others. They are the four U.S. Army chaplains remembered as "The Dorchester Chaplains." When in World War II the troop ship Dorchester was torpedoed and sank, they were diligent in serving the soldiers under their care. When there weren't enough life preservers, they gave up their own and went down with the ship. Representing different faith traditions, they served together and prayed together and died together. You can read their story in more detail here.

As I said, they were not explicitly in healthcare. However, there is so much in common between what healthcare chaplains and military chaplains do. I have often said that being in the hospital is like travel in a foreign country. The people around you where strange clothing and speak a different language. You're in a different time zone, eating strange food, and experiencing strange customs. Even your money no longer has meaning, and your body isn't your own. The same is true, as near as I can tell, for those serving in the Armed Forces (no, I haven't served, but I've tried to listen well). With that in mind, there seems to me much in common between the ministry of a healthcare chaplain and a military chaplain. We are all there for those whose worlds, and whose health and safety, are no longer under their own control. (And, yes, I realize this is true of other specialized ministries. I don't want to slight anyone; but this is who we remember today.)

So, take the time to remember the Dorchester Chaplains, and to honor the service of all their colleagues who still serve among those in harms way. Pray that God protect them and those they serve; and that in God's time we may know fully that greatest place of safety, the true peace of God.

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