President Tim O’Dell’s Letter Number 2 – February 2018

“Do not cooperate with the dark side!”

If we take a moment to look around us it will not take long for us to observe the “craziness” of the world.  The sectarian spirit (party spirit) is oh so common and we human beings somehow feel compelled to add our two-cents to this view or that one.  This plays into the hand of a darker spirit that drives a wedge between men.  Someone once said: “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”

As Chaplains we are supposed to be practitioners of the art of being the presence of Christ… or the presence of a quiet and calming spirit.  If we fall prey to the “party” spirit we may become a source of division, or at least contributing to it, rather than a promoter of peace.

As Chaplains in pluralistic settings we are called to demonstrate the truth of our individual traditions by the way we live and conduct ourselves, by treating our fellow man with respect, kindness, compassion, and mercy.  These attributes help Chaplains become bridges between divisions… paving the way for communication and focusing on those things we share in common.

Ask anyone if he or she loves their family.  It is rare indeed to get anything but an affirmative response. Ask anyone if they want to be a blessing or a burden to those they hold dear… and you will hear their desire to be a blessing in all but the most-rare of circumstances. 

Such questions create opportunities to explore the ways and means to produce the desired outcomes, focusing on others and not ourselves.  These discovery moments are rich in hope and promise. 

The work of the prison chaplain has been to hold out hope… to point out the value of every human being… and to help individual’s discover options for a brighter tomorrow.

Let me then ask, “Chaplain, who and what do those you serve see when they look at you?”  Each of us have an obligation to frequently visit the mirror, not to examine our appearance, but to honestly examine our own hearts.   There is a story about a plank and a log that most of us remember.  Help me to have no log in my eye that I may see to help others with their splinter.