The Other Side of the World
by Seanan Holland
I had been here on my post for a week before I saw that we were right near the river. From inside the barriers, on this flat plain, it’s hard to see much of anything beyond the camp walls. One of the guys asked me what I thought of the view of the river, and I thought he was talking about the canal (the canal is what I previously told you was the river). So now I know where to go to see the river – the top of the stairs. And it’s great to see all the green. On one side of us is a ridge, several miles long, that is mostl gravel. And on the other side is the town.
I managed to get outside the wire on a trip up to one of the other camps. We had late Easter service, movie night (Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, highly recommended for single and married, very funny), and United Through Reading. RP (my assistant’s designation is “RP”) recorded videos of Marines reading stories to their children – then the DVD gets mailed back to loved ones in the States and kids can watch Dad (or Mom) read them a story.
The trip up to the other camp was interesting – if for nothing else it was my first trip outside. We mostly drove through little villages along the side of a river. Lots of farm fields and in all that, plenty of poppy. It provokes an interesting set of feelings that I recall from seeing both the beauty and destruction in Iraq. The poppy fields are very pretty with white and purple flowers. And they have an evil green bulb that the heroine comes from.
I have an interesting exercise in attentiveness. It’s very dark out here at night and going to the pee-tube requires a careful approach and reasonably good aim (or a big flash light). On my way back to the hut, I get a spectacular view of the sky. It’s a good moment to just pause and appreciate something beautiful. We are moving from the winter constellations to the summer constellations. Scorpio is just climbing up over the horizon late at night. And Orion, the hunter, is sliding slowly toward the ridgeline. Soon his feet will be on the ground and the summer fighting season will begin.
Chow is still great, and I’m still losing weight – getting too hot to eat much. I manage to exercise a few times a week, so I feel good for the physical activity. Most of the showers still work, so we are able to stay clean. I got a newer computer – ou can tell the “y” key doesn’t work very well. But the CD drive works on this one, so that’s good. The computer guys out here are doing amazing work. We were told there were plenty of computers out here, and there are, but the are all so full of dust, that one thing or another doesn’t work on most of them. This is just part of what I mean when I say everything happens slowly. You have to take extra time to figure a way around the little ankle-biter problems. I am very happy to report that my surplus of guitar paraphernalia allowed me to deliver a complete set of guitar strings to a Marine who had a guitar and who knew how to play it, but couldn’t because of broken strings.
Thanks for all your emails,
Lt. Seanan Holland is a Unitarian Universalist military chaplain stationed in Afghanistan. He has served as an intern with the CLF.
Disclaimer: All entries to CLF/Quest Military Ministries page reflect the personal views of the contributor. The views expressed here are in no way to be construed as an individual or individuals speaking in their official capacities for the agencies, departments, or service branches they serve in. This is not an official publication of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, any government agency, or any other organization.