Day Thirteen – Infirmary and Tent City

The Lord sustains them on their sickbed *
and ministers to them in their illness.                      Psalm 41

My assignment this week is to work with the Infirmary with which I’m very comfortable as I served a residency at Hershey Medical Center (a Chaplain residency, that is) and continue to do work at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

One thing I find somewhat unusual here is the number of, especially youth, who request to see a Chaplain when they are our ‘guests’ in the Health Lodge or have progressed to Infirmary Tent City – where you are better, but not ready to climb mountains again.  A few days ago, I had what I called “The Three C’s” as their names all started with “C.”

We often bring with us much baggage which we think we leave behind at home.  But that baggage clings to our backs – heavier than the weight of our backpacks.  Here in the bareness of the desert and the mountain our issues burst forth when we least expect them – in all clarity.  Someone once came here looking for God to speak out of the sheer silence and was not satisfied at what God responded.  Soul searching which was aided by separation from the immediate back there, and given insight from some conversations held along the journey.

A variety of issues with those “Three C’s”, but what soon became apparent was they really just needed someone to talk to, and more importantly, to just to listen.  These are youth mostly trying to figure out themselves.  Half child, half adult;  struggling with the child within and the adult others are expecting them to be.  And many are just not ready for that responsibility placed upon them in an extreme environment such as Philmont.

I recall a number of years ago when over the course of 10 days I was witness to a scared, unsure Crew Leader turning into a mature Leader.  I watched him grow from a child to an adult in those 10 days.  Some don’t make that journey – yet.  Others blossom.

One of the blessings of this job is that we witness the beginning or the middle, maybe even if we’re lucky, that transition.  It may be in that movement to adulthood.  It may be in offering insight to a problem at home or within the heart.  It may even be a nudge to one staff member to consider the Diaconate.  A Chaplain never knows where a conversation with one in personal ‘turmoil’ may turn.

And at the end of the day, we both offer our prayers for those with whom we’ve interacted, and try to find them the next day on their journey to healing.

The “Three C’s”? – Boy!  Are they good card players.  Maybe that’s all they needed.  Sickness takes many forms.  So does healing.

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