I feel better now, but I also feel worse: I got to call home as a birthday present, but I also have picked up a nasty case of diarrhea which has been going around here for awhile now. I call it the “82nd Airborne Extreme Latrine Weight Loss Program,” and almost half the guys here have been on it, some for quite a few days. We’ve been forced to burn our feces a lot more than usual!
It was nice to call home for the ten minutes I had - we have a couple satellite phones here for emergencies, but I was given a chance to call for my birthday. It was a sort of birthday present. It was good to talk to my family - my wife told me about a new part-time job she picked up, the kids will be out of school in a couple weeks, and everyone back home seems to be doing OK.
The pump to our underground well has been inoperable since we arrived, so the ABP has had to go out into the village to draw water from the local well, and we have had no water for showers or laundry for the past week and a half. I haven’t had a shower in two weeks - I use moist wipes to try to clean myself as best I can from time to time. I told my family I haven’t had a shower or clean clothes in two weeks, and they thought that sounded brutal. I told them it could be worse!
Yesterday we really didn’t do anything; it was almost like a day off. I listened to music most of the afternoon: Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yes, and others I listened to in high school. I thought about how long ago those groups played, and thought about how much has happened since then. I hate to say it, it made me really feel old. Perhaps I am - I’m 50 now. But as they say, age is a state of mind, and apparently I’m not too old to be stuck in a war zone!
The Commander of the ABP spent some time with us talking, and we learned he’s 60. He has grey hair and a grey beard, with signs of wear on his face. Still, he looks like he’s in good shape, and he has a certain presence and carries himself as one would expect a Commander to, with pride and dignity. I hope I will have that same bearing ten years from now myself.
We are expecting another group of Soldiers from the 508th Infantry to arrive soon and replace the guys from the 82nd Airborne. It will be tight here for living spaces for awhile, and even after the 82nd leaves, we’ll have more Soldiers here than ever before. Hopefully they’ll bring someone who can fix our pump!
If you want to talk with someone in person, please feel free to call 212-864-5436
The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and
Executive Director of CrossCurrents.
He is the author of God and Science (John Knox Press, 1986).
A revised and expanded version of the book is appearing here. God and Science (Hypertext Edition,
He is also editor of a new book, featuring articles by world class scientists and theologians, and illustrating the leading views on the relationship between science and religion: Faith, Science and the Future (CrossCurrents Press, 2007).
Charles also tracks the boundry between the virtual and the real at his blog: Next World Design, focusing on the mediation of art, science and spirituality in the metaverse.