So this atheist goes into a synagogue, stares at the Ark, the Scrolls, and the Eternal Light and exclaims: “These are just superstitions! If I’m wrong, let God correct me.”
And a great voice came down from Heaven saying, “You’re right.”
Before the fighting stopped our chaplains stayed busy. These guys were really good. I mean most of them could perform services in a variety of religions. A chaplain could find himself in an outlying region, far away from a city or compound of any real size, and discover he might have to cater to the needs of a soldier (or group there of) who were believers in a religion other than his. It was a time when we all had a great deal of respect for the next guy’s choice of direction he took in worship. We all ate, slept, drank, laughed, and shared a deep belief and need for a power greater than our own.
Not until the fighting came to an official end did we begin to take heed of those who became overnight heroes; they were known as atheists. I had never been around an atheist before. I found myself listening intently to what they had to say.
Few Warriors are atheists, for they are in daily peril.
Not a particularly different day, just another twenty-four hour stretch of time spent as a count down to the single splendiferous occasion when a soldier’s name was called and it became his special day to mount up, get his gear, and board a truck for the last pleasant ride. This time the ride was to the departure center where he would be mustered and sent back to our United States of America.
Mail call had been completed. Our company chaplain handed out the last letter to the last anxious recipient once again pulling double duty for our mail clerk who was away from the company.
Mail call time often became a good occasion to linger and depending on the weather we might put together a touch football game, or a softball game, or maybe just a couple of us playing catch – anything suitable in order to kill some time and avoid the never-ending beer drinking or card games.
“Wait”, the Chaplain called out to the guy who would be the recipient of a final piece of mail at the bottom of the mailbag.
The Chaplain handed the guy the letter and said, “See…you are blessed.”
The Chaplain knew this guy well as one of the three fellows in our troop who had claimed to be non-believers, atheists.
“Please Chaplain,” the guy said dismissively.
The Chaplain smiled and waved him off thinking it was the end of the conversation.
“Goodbye,” the trooper said in response to the Chaplain’s wave.
“And God be with you as well,” the Chaplain replied.
There was a glimmer of an annoyed look before the Chaplain took over. First came his big broad smile, then his explanation.
“You might want to look it up. When you said goodbye to me, you were echoing the shortened version of God be with you.”
There is no end to this story, only perhaps a beginning. Within the depths of a man’s kindness, lessons are taught and never forgotten.