Army Chaplains' Blog

COLE IS ON THE ROAD AGAIN – PART 4

Posted on: July 25, 2011

In the writings of St Aidan on the desert fathers he narrates a thought provoking story. He records an incident concerning a certain Abbot Antony who was conversing with some of his monks when a hunter, who had been out in the wilderness looking for game, came across the jovial party. Seeing the monks and their Abbott laughing and joking he was offended that they were not about the Lord’s business.

So Abbot Antony told the hunter: ‘Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.’ The hunter complied. ‘Now shoot another,’ directed the Abbot. Again the hunter did, and the Abbot continued: ‘and another, and another!

Eventually the hunter complained, ‘If I bend my bow all the time it will break!’

Abbott Antony replied: ‘So it is with the work of God. If we push ourselves beyond measure, we will soon break. It is right therefore from time to time to relax!’ (Celtic Daily Prayer(1996) Page 419, HarperOne).

Since arriving in theatre life has been full on, and I thought I was coping well. I began to undertake my regular early morning runs around the camp, and was even going to the gym and taking part in some ’spinning’ classes. I felt good working literally from dawn until late after dusk. Then I made the long tiresome journey to Kabul. The visit went well and I enjoyed the 10 degree drop in temperature, the more relaxed pace and meeting the Kabul Support Unit Chaplain. We both enjoyed a wonderful moment together praying on the roof of our accommodation surrounded by the mountains of that ancient city. However, whether it was something in the food, or the close proximity you endure whilst flying in the back of a Hercules, I experienced a ‘relaxation’ and type of ‘runs’ I was not physically prepared for! It started with aches in my joints, and then bizarrely being cold when outside in 44 degree heat! So much so that I began to wear my sleeves down and shiver in the suns glare! Then came the stomach cramps and the inevitable problem with my bowels. I tried to soldier on, telling myself that it would soon pass and I even booked a doctors appointment but then felt a bit better so I cancelled it. The next day however, I was overcome by a deep lethargy, and aware that I could be infectious and therefore a liability to others, I reluctantly went to the medical centre and was pronounced sick and bedded down for 72 hours.

Relaxation is not something that comes easy to me, but that first 24 hour period passed – quite literally – between my bed and the toilet. The second day I felt mildly better but remained in bed having tried to eat a couple of pieces of toast but failed to keep them in my stomach!

By the third morning I felt significantly stronger and was able to get up and potter about the room. I was forced to relax and read, or watch TV, and do you know what? I actually began to regain my strength. Whatever the actual cause of my infection, it had not been helped by my eagerness to run only six days into theatre – when we are told to wait for fourteen days to allow your body to acclimatise. I had probably attempted too much too soon and the body, weak from attempting to cope with this new environment, its heat and its own unique strains of bacteria, had succumbed. But hey, I know better, at least I do now! Perhaps my confinement was the only way for God to get me to actually rest, and it is only then that we are able to hear his still small voice.

Padre Cole Maynard

2 Responses to "COLE IS ON THE ROAD AGAIN – PART 4"

Dear Cole,

A recent mailing of the AFCU ‘Contact’ magazine and ‘News & Views’ Issue 4 2011 containing your encounter with the Tongans, prompted me to visit the web site where I was able to read the various parts of ‘Coles on the Road Again’ and the other blogs.

Nostalgia has a strong pull at times and I was able to identify with so much of what you write, having served with the RE for just over 30 years. I left the service at the end of Dec 1988.

‘AFCU Late News’ also included details of the Wednesday prayer meetings at 2000 hrs (1630 BST) in Camp Bastion and other military bases in the region. I have put these in my diary with a 15 minute audible reminder.

I write to let you know that I will commit to pray for you every day for the remainder of your tour. If you are able to give me any specific requests, as and when your busy schedule allows, either for yourself or others, I will bring those before the Throne of Grace.

I understand from Part 3 that you are from the north west. Originally from Somerset until joining the Army, I moved to Chorley from Northampton at the beginning of September last year. I can confirm that it is not 43℃ in Lancashire. I promise not to say anything about the rain.

With every blessing

Grahame

Thanks Grahame, all prayer is gratefully received! Numbers have been good at our recent services and I have a baptism this coming Sunday of a young soldiers who wishes to be baptised by immersion in front of his colleagues, praise God.

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