March Chaplain's Reflections

U.S. Air Force Capt. Christina Pittman, 169th Fighter Wing Chaplain at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for her portrait, Jan. 13, 2014.   (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Christina Pittman, 169th Fighter Wing Chaplain at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, poses for her portrait, Jan. 13, 2014. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

 I often wonder how people are able to respond to physical life and death crisis through super human strength. You may have stories you can reflect on as well. The events where a person is found trapped under a car and in a split second a rescuer comes with a rush of adrenalin and lifts a four ton vehicle off a pinned victim. The body is amazing and yet what seems to be even more extraordinary is the human spirit in each of us. Keeping our spirits ready and resilient will carry us far. There are moments when we all need a mysterious strength to move into our lives and overcome adversity. Preparing for these moments takes discipline and intentional mindset to be spiritually resilient.

One example of a person who practiced spiritual resiliency in his life was the writer, William Ernest Henley. He had a troubling life due to disease and loss. As I read about his struggles of losing one leg, enduring nearly a two-year hospital stay to keep the other leg, and the death of his daughter, I began to realize how he reveals his personal transparency in the poem, “Invictus” written in 1875. Even when life hit hard and despair seemed to bring him to rock bottom, he perseveres unafraid refusing to bow his head in defeat. 

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

 

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

 

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

 

When I think of all that life can throw at us, I am encouraged that there is hope through a spirit of resiliency and faith. No matter the circumstance, William Earnest Henley gave thanks for an unconquered soul and realized his perspective to fight was his choice. He steered his life by commanding his soul to not give up instead rise unconquered!

In this season of Lent we can all reflect on how the troubles of this world reveals the frailty of our lives. Yet, we have the promise of a saving grace freely given. In John 16:33 Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (NASB) God is a fortress of refuge to many through faith. Now and in the coming months, people all over the world renew spiritual endurance from long suffering in religious events such as Lent, Easter, Purim, Passover, Navroz and Eid al-Fitr. Some ways we can grow in spiritual resiliency are keeping true to convictions of our faith and family. I encourage you to seek ways to renew your spiritual strength so you may face life as Invictus, or in the English translation, unconquered.

For more information on spiritual resiliency please contact the Chaplain Corps by phone: 803-647-8265 or email: usaf.sc.169-fw.list.fal-hc-ang-chaplains@mail.mil. We also have a diverse library of books for check out (fill out information on the pink form) and free (help yourself to materials in first bookshelf on the left) in the hallway outside our new office in the 245th Air Traffic Control Squadron, building 1070.

 

"Invictus by William Ernest Henley" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. 21 Feb. 2018. <http://www.poetry.net/poem/40493>.