Monday, June 6, 2011

Seeking the Lost: Stories of Search and Rescue

Fr. Dale Matson

I wrote this book because these search stories are both compelling and instructive and seeking the lost is an extension of my vocation as a priest. I believe that anyone who goes into the woods can experience a heaven on earth if they are properly prepared but it can become a hell on earth if they are not prepared or lost. The most important safety device is not a GPS, Satellite Phone or even a knife. It is good judgment. Some of those who perish are killed by their own egos. Pride, stubbornness or selfishness can be the crucial factor. I have never been lost myself but know that when traveling alone, there is always a risk for even the most experienced individual.

I am also only too aware that not all of those we looked for wanted to be found. Some of those that we found had died by their own hand and some who died were never found. It is my hope that this book may serve to interest others to volunteer for search and rescue work, point out serious errors made by those who were lost, and offer knowledge to those who are less familiar with the wilderness. I have attempted to accurately portray a representative sample of searches I have been a part of and to balance the search accounts with both successful and unsuccessful searches. That is the sobering reality of Search and Rescue efforts. Much of the search work is not glamorous. It is slow, painful, deliberate and careful walking and sometimes crawling. Most searches end before the searchers arrive at the Command Post or before they are deployed on a search. Perhaps the most important task of the individual charged with Incident Command is how, when and why assets are deployed.

This book is written for four groups of individuals. Firstly it is written for those involved with search and rescue. Hopefully there may be something instructive in these stories. It is also written for the lay person who is interested in the mystery and detective work involved in the searches. The book is also written for those who go into the wilderness as hikers, backpackers and hunters who may also find it instructive. Lastly, it is written for those who lost a family member in the wilderness and either know the outcome or remain uncertain with no closure. There is no closure for us either. May the tragic death of their loved ones not be in vain. May it serve a purpose. May someone be saved in the future because of something in this book.

This book is a collection of stories about what went on, sight unseen. It is an attempt to illustrate the magnitude of the effort in search operations. I can honestly say that I have never witnessed an unprofessional act during the searches I have been involved with. The people involved in search and rescue understand the gravity of their task.

I dedicate this book to all those involved in Search and Rescue work. This includes those with search dogs, those on horseback, and those in off road vehicles, those in the air and those of us on foot. This also includes the families of those who search and the employers who allow the volunteers the time off to search. I especially want to thank Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, the deputies I have worked with and the civilians on our mountaineering team. Half of the proceeds for this book will be donated to the Mountaineering Unit of the Fresno County Search and Rescue Team.


Anonymous said...

Another excellent post, Fr. Matson.
And - it's great to know that another book, besides these first two, is in the making!

Speaking of search and rescue (of a different sort) - I'd like to challenge you and your Christian colleagues in psychology/psychiatry and theology to work with other Anglicans (and Catholics) to develop a mature, sound Biblical theology/psychology of human identity, one where spiritual and scientific truth go hand in hand and that is not distorted by politics and sin.

Have you read Joseph Nicolosi's new book and articles? I doubt you are psychoanalytical, but more cognitive/behavioral, but I really think he's onto something regarding early attachments and how they affect identity.

Anyway, thanks for generously giving us the benefit of your experience, insight, interests and skills.

All blessings and peace and prayers for many more books, sermons and rescues, especially the eternal kind!

Anonymous said...

PS - I've posted a few of my thoughts on 'Identity' here:

and here:

I've been wrestling with this subject since 2003 - triggered by my own childhood identity-robbing, disorienting experiences, now rightly being termed 'trauma.'

Hope someone (like you and your friends) in the church finds a way to snuff the insane counterfeits of Christianity and human identity being fomented in Western culture...and soon!

Anonymous said...

Oh - let me up that challenge a bit -

How about a theology/psychology of Identity wherein the way of healing, restoration, and the achievement of a healthy identity is described - AND - the church is taught how to help people on the journey?

Not asking too much, am I?

Knowing you (even just through reading the blogs), I doubt it!

Dale Matson said...

St. Nikao,
I am currently working on three books and hope (God willing) to have them done in about a year. I can say this though. When Jesus said that the truth makes you free, it does make you free indeed. The lies of Satan hold people captive.

Dale Matson said...

St. Nikao,
I have not published your most recent comment because we have gone somewhat off track. I believe my best answer to your statement about identity is here. What I do know for certain is that we are all born unique but estranged from God and broken because of original sin. When we celebrate who we are, we are idolaters. What we do in this world that is not of Christ will be burned as dross. What we do that is evil, we will be judged by God for.

Anonymous said...

Where do you buy the book?

Thank you

Dale Matson said...

Thanks for asking. It is available on line through Amazon books or Barnes and Noble or can be ordered through any bookstore. Dale Matson

Anonymous said...

There is a new book on my wishes are granted.

Your post about the Didache mentioned in the comments.