A Samaritan who was traveling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. “Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, “and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.” Luke 10: 33-36
This morning’s Gospel reading invites a description of part of a Philmont Chaplain’s duties.
As you can imagine, we have our share of injuries (mostly sprained ankles, not like my fractured knee last year!) and “altitude sickness” or blisters. Sore muscles and distaste for freeze-dried meals don’t count. But dehydration does.
I joke that a Chaplain brings the Good News (namely your mail) and takes away your sins (meaning bags of garbage). We spend most of our day driving huge Chevy Suburbans up ‘roads’ that I would never consider taking my much smaller Subaru! In addition to taking mail and supplies to back country camps we often are bringing down someone, youth or adult, who just can’t make it, need medical attention, and yes, sometimes surgery. Years ago, a 15-yo died on the mountain of a heart-attack! Fortunately, experiences like that are very, very unusual!
The Chaplains and the Med staff work well and hard together (which is why I had such a good relationship with all the med students who took care of me last year). Each week, one of us is assigned to cover the Health Lodge, as we would as a hospital Chaplain. Sometimes, the one who has come off the mountain is in need of emotional support. Each Crew has a Chaplain’s Aide whose assignment is to help keep morale high for 10 days. But sometimes, they need a little ‘professional’ help. And that is where we come in.
While the daily chapel services are meaningful – and often fun – it is in aiding those who may figuratively lie beaten on the side of the trail where true ministry comes each and every day.
(btw – my vehicle is named “Erb’s ‘Burb.”) =^)