Day Six – Death in the Family

I am assigned to Logistics this week. Logistics are in charge of, 1st of all, making sure incoming Crews have their itinerary, know where they are going for 10 days, how to get to each camp, and what activities they will have at each camp. Logistics also (we pray) know where every person is on the Ranch (about 3,000 every day between staff and hikers) at any particular time.

The Chaplain who is assigned to them is at their disposal to fulfill any need along the above. They are also the communication heart (or brain) of the Ranch. Important messages from home to hiker, and from hiker to home, go through them. Cell-phones work better here now than they did when I started in 2005. Back then, we had to drive down the main road to a small hill, stand on top of our vehicle, raise our left arm in the air and… well, maybe.

A dad as an adult leader. His 15-yo son, one of the Crew. We received a call on Saturday that Grandma was not doing well. Dad and Grandson were in an area of the Ranch we can’t easily get to, and the family back home understood that. Then this morning at 5:30 we receive a call that Grandma had died. So, my job as the Chaplain on Duty to Logistics was given the assignment to a) find them; b) deliver the bad news, c) figure out what they wished to do, and communicate back home. I much prefer taking a message such as, “Congratulations, you’re a grandpa. She came early!”

The hardest thing was telling the youth. He was very close to his grandmother. “She made the best cinnamon buns,” he told me. And he didn’t understand why she rooted for the Royal; they were having a bad year. (I had no clue what he was talking about, except that it was a sports team.)

As I said yesterday, our job as Chaplains is to bring the Good News. Sometimes we have to deliver the worst news.

But within two hours returning to Base Camp, we got them lunch, had Amtrak change their tickets, arranged their gear and got them on a Philmont bus to the train station an hour away on their home trip.

Sometimes that’s all you can do.

But before we took them off the mountain, I had their Crew gather around them in a circle and prayed for Evie, and for Dad and son. AMEN.

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