Sunday, April 3, 2011

Seeking The Lost Part II

Fr. Dale Matson

I am finishing another book and this one is on Search and Rescue. There was a joy both in offering an affirmation for those who search and in the creative act of writing itself. Hopefully, the photographs used to illustrate the searches also will help tell the stories.

There is also sadness about this. It was a reliving of the disappointment of searches that became recoveries or where the individual was not found. There is an additional sadness about this for me. As we move through our lives we find ourselves reviewing chapters in our own stories. Each story is a kind of niche and we only fully realize that we have been in this niche when we are moving to the next chapter.

When I became a member of the Mountaineering Unit, my health and confidence were more robust than now. I am an ordinary person with no special search skills and what I had to offer was primarily availability, fitness, and a willingness to be led. At the same time I became involved in search and rescue work, I had also retired and had begun seminary training for Holy Orders as a Vocational Deacon.

The Spiritual niche of Deacon complimented my service as a search and rescue team member. Deacons are called by God to bring the needs of the people to the church and to bring the church to the people. I enjoyed incorporating some of my search stories into my sermons and remember one sermon where I held up my GPS and Satellite phone as a metaphor for not letting obstructions block communication with you and what is above you. I hope I have also brought the church to the team.

God however, was calling me to the Priesthood. It is a different Spiritual niche. It is a different chapter. At the same time he was limiting my involvement in searches because of injuries and knees that are no longer as resilient. Kneeling at the altar is almost as difficult as walking down a steep Sierra slope. A charism of a priest is pastor. Since becoming a Priest, I have taken on a different role on our team. It is a supportive role, a Barnabus role for the team leadership. They are all different from one another yet together, they are a team within a team. We have lunch on almost a weekly basis and the time together is good. It is good indeed. I was also on the team in earlier times when it was not this way.

Those of us with the gift of exhortation must use it as God has intended it. If not, an equally powerful negative side emerges and we are simply a critical person and a terrible parent to younger people. Team building is really trust building. As we serve so we become. My life has been in someone else’s hands at one point or another on every search. Carrying out our assignments has helped us become more fully human. I am mourning the previous chapter as I look forward to the next chapter. Amen

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