October 17, 2010

Name: Charlie Sherpa
Posting date: 10/17/10
Hometown: Boone, Iowa
Not deploying to
: Afghanistan

Milblog: Red Bull Rising
Sherpa at

If you are open-minded and observant, you can sometimes detect the presence of angels -- even if you don't particularly believe in them.

Long-time friends will recognize that I tend to get both faithful and fatalistic when it comes to big life decisions: Whatever is supposed to happen is supposed to happen. Some people might call that living in the present, or being mindful. As a good Lutheran boy, however, I choose to ascribe it to a powerful and loving God -- a being supreme enough that he probably thinks it's funny that I give him so much credit.

Life is a journey, but it's more like steering a canoe than it is driving a car. You can shift it this way or that way a little, but you're always moving forward, and you'd better anticipate the occasional rapids.

When Household-6 and I found out that I was going to deploy to Afghanistan, we put ourselves in God's hands. When we found out, dramatically and suddenly, that I would not be deploying to Afghanistan -- that, in fact, I would be retired by the end of the year -- we tried the same tack:

"Maybe we have learned what we were supposed to learn, just from the experience of making preparations," we told ourselves. Little did we know.

A few days later, I was back in uniform. This time, I was assigned to help my Red Bull buddies get to Afghanistan. Traveling back and forth to Camp Shelby, Miss., has turned out to be a strange blessing, because it's kept me in touch with my buddies and my unit, far longer than I would have otherwise.

I can't predict where my family's new path may lead, but I know that am occasionally visited by angels of coincidence. Today, on Iowa Public Radio, Garrison Keillor read a poem by Natasha Tretheway on his daily "Writer's Alamanac" program. Titled "Theories of Time and Space," the poem begins, "You can get there from here, though there's no going home. Everywhere you go will be somewhere you've never been."

There are too many coincidences happening to me right now. Almost daily, obstacles are removed, opportunities are presented, and happy coincidences flash by like roadsigns. Here's one such example: Tretheway's poem moves on to explore a drive along Highway 49, the very road I've traveled repeatedly between Gulfport and Camp Shelby. I have walked this ground; I am walking this ground.

The title of the poem?

"Native Guard."

(Here's an Amazon link to the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, in case you are as inspired as I am to explore Tretheway's work.)


"You can get there from here, though there's no going home. Everywhere you go will be somewhere you've never been." This is amazing....I wish I could do this...

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