JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
The "Chaplain's Corner" offers perspectives to enhance spiritual/religious resiliency in support of Air Force and Army Comprehensive Fitness programs.
Comments regarding specific beliefs, practices, or behaviors are strictly those of the author and do not convey endorsement by the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Army, the Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or the 673d Air Base Wing.
I recently returned from the yearly gathering of Anglican chaplains. Each year military, prison, hospital, law enforcement, education, and a myriad of other types of chaplains from the Anglican church get together to reconnect, retrain, rest, and spend time together to take care of each other, prevent burn-out, and recharge for another year of work.
This year we gathered in Charleston, South Carolina, at a historic cathedral and spent four days together. My family looks forward to this convocation every year and we make it a priority to attend no matter where we are, or where it is. It is a chance for us to reconnect with long-time friends, to be among trusted people who share our beliefs and our habits.
Of all the trips that we as a family take, the Anglican Chaplain Convocation is the highlight every year. This year was no different. We were able to unplug from our normal lives, relax and unwind, and, most importantly this year, get recharged before our summer move. The convocation serves as my family's rally point.
Most of the service members reading this know what a rally point is. In the Army, when Soldiers are on a patrol, every so often, the leader will set a rally point. The rally point is usually in a defensible, protected spot to which the patrol can easily return. The leader continually sets new rally points as the patrol moves so that it is never too far away.
When things go wrong on a military patrol, perhaps the platoon is ambushed, or Soldiers get separated, or some other mishap, the unit returns to the rally point. The rally point serves as a safe location to regroup, tend to wounds, redistribute supplies, plan the next action, and from which the unit can launch decisive actions.
A rally point is not simply a retreat plan, its purpose is to help a unit get control of a situation, refocus, and, critically, reengage. Many of us need rally points for our life. Life never gets out of control when we are ready for everything to go wrong. It seems that is it always in the most inopportune times that everything gets crazy, it is as though an enemy is just waiting for the right moment to strike and completely disrupt our plans. Medical issues come up that get compounded by financial concerns, and that starts to make work degrade and our emotions fray, and then our relationships begin to unravel. That sort of coordinated attack does not happen all the time, but when it does, it seems as though that is all there is. It is at those times that we need to have a rally point.
It is difficult to set up a rally point in the middle of an ambush - ensuring everyone gets the message in the chaos is a challenge; it is often disorderly and poorly executed. It is far better to have rally points at regular intervals before the air circulation device interacts with the muck that we find ourselves in.
All of us need a place where we can regroup, refresh, and reset - regular point in time in which we know we can get everything together and get ready to go on again. It does not have to be the same location all the time, but it may be. It usually involves the same people, and the same environment. Always, however, a rally point offers the same advantages: tend to wounds, resupply, plan, and move out.
My family's rally point is the Anglican Chaplain Convocation. Do you have a rally point established in your life? If you do, you know how valuable that is. If not, I encourage you to establish one; begin identifying a place, time or event that enables you to step out of the craziness of your life, take stock of what is going on, and get ready to go at it again. It might be a yearly occurrence, as it is for me, but usually it is more often than that. If you aren't sure how to start that, I encourage you to try setting aside a morning or afternoon each week when you do the same thing to begin that pattern.
As you begin to plan for the unexpected and prepare for it, you will find that your rally points become more valuable, and more importantly, enable you to take decisive actions that lead you to where you want to go.