Monthly Archives: August 2015

Finding God in All Things

bird in dust

“God reveals himself in all things through faith” according to Jean-Pierre de Caussade, author of The Sacrament of the Present Moment. Where do I find God in the blistering heat and choking dust of Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti—a place so remote and obscure most Americans have never heard of it? A few days ago as I was hurrying through a maze of metal containers which serve as offices, I saw something at my feet that made me stop in my tracks, literally. A pair of finches were hopping about carefree in the dirt, cocking their heads curiously this way and that. Their soft feathers, which seemed all one piece, were mostly graphite in color but with green highlights. Other colors glittered beneath the dusty grey like diamonds in the rough. I imagined them dipped in soot and if one could wash them off, they would sparkle bright rainbow colors. It was a sacred moment, stopping to look at those two little birds.

Jesus often used ordinary things to teach extraordinary truths: a sower in a field, a shepherd and his sheep, a woman searching for a lost coin, a mustard seed, and, yes, even birds. He infused everyday food and drink – bread and wine – with deep, theological significance: “This is my body . . .” “This is my blood . . .” The Incarnation itself is the greatest example of God using the ordinary (humanity) both to hide and reveal the extraordinary (divinity). De Caussade said, “God hides himself in order to raise our souls up to that perfect faith which will discover him under every kind of disguise.”

Where have you seen God lately? 

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Into Africa

tree of life

Tree of Life, Walt Disney World

The one thing predictable about life is its unpredictability. Since my last post – a while ago, I know – I’ve embarked on an unexpected, and in some ways unwanted, journey. I use the word “journey” literally, not just metaphorically.

I left my church on June 19 for an involuntary, yearlong mobilization and deployment to Djibouti, Africa where I serve as the senior US military chaplain. (If your African geography is as shaky as mine, I’ll give you some help: Djibouti is surrounded by the countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea in the so-called Horn of Africa.) Camp Lemonnier, my new duty station, is a US Navy base with over 4,000 personnel aboard, including all branches of our military, foreign military personnel, and civilians.

I arrived in Djibouti on July 16 and have adjusted to the time difference and extreme climate, for the most part (“extreme” as in extremely hot). Part of my job is traveling to wherever we have even a small number of US troops. I’ve already been on two trips: a brief one to Mogadishu, Somalia (called “the most dangerous city in the world”) and a longer stop at a base in Kenya where I saw scenes that looked straight out of The Lion King: a giant crane soars majestically over an ancient thick-trunked Tree of Life, curious little black-faced monkeys scamper around the camp looking for scraps of food, a small antelope called a dik-dik bounds through the jungle.

But, as exotic as the wildlife is, by far the greater experience has been meeting people from all walks of life: military and civilian, career military and reservists, male and female, young and old, people of all nationalities from all parts of the globe—more diverse than the flora and fauna of Africa.

I’ve often said the greatest joy of ministry is dealing with people, and the greatest challenge of ministry is dealing with people. That’s true here too, though so far the joys far outweigh the challenges.Moger in Somalia

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