There are days when you feel that you spend your entire life in transit.
One of the things that got me really excited about military chaplaincy was the concept of “deck-plate ministry”. While I would hesitate to call what I do “ministry” (mostly because it sounds way too Christian), I liked the idea that my rabbinate would be “pounding the deck plates” (a “deck” aboard a ship is what you might call a “floor”). In our plan of the day, RP and I almost always set aside a block of time for “infiltration”. Regardless of the term used, my rabbinate was supposed to be away from my desk.
Over the past week, this has certainly been true – but not necessarily in the good way. Between typhoons, SCUBA classes (more on this next week), trainings and meetings, I sometimes feel that I am never where I am needed.
Today, I spent hours in a car commuting from Camp Foster (home) to Camp Hansen (work) to Camp Courtney (very important training on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response) to Camp Hansen (follow up work) to Camp Foster (almost, because then I had to turn around and go back) to Camp Hansen (Battalion Formation and associated warranted complaining) to return to Camp Foster. For those calculating time, each drive is at least 30 minutes.
The problem is that all of those extra events are all (or mostly) worthwhile. All the meetings are for a good cause, and they help coordinate people so that we don’t spend another 15 hours in meetings.
The training today was on Chaplains and Religious Program Specialists involvement in Sexual Assault Response and Prevention (SAPR). Right now, this a huge program in the Marine Corps – and a truly worthy way to spend my time (I could spend an entire blog post talking about the interesting models of reporting that are in effect in the military and the ethical questions created in the system).
I also spent time today attending meetings about suicide and PTSD, particularly important in a Battalion that has not yet been out of Afghanistan for 90 days.
And, of course, there are trouble makers, bored kids with vivid imaginations, alcohol incidents, drug incidents: all the things that one can expect to happen when you get a few thousand 19-23 year olds together and plan to leave for the weekend.
We meet to coordinate plans on how to get them help; on how to prevent certain people who are on the verge of being NJPed (getting some form of Non-Judicial Punishment that will certainly end any career prospects) from ruining their prospects; on how to prevent them from causing trouble in the first place.
But it’s the traffic that’s the killer. The lines at the tollbooths on the expressway. The ill-timed traffic lights. The scooters darting in and out of traffic. The AFN Radio disc-jockeys. And the monotony.
My plate is full, but luckily the next couple weeks are looking pretty quiet (not really, but maybe a smile and some optimism will make it so)!