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July Chaplain's Reflections

U.S. Air Force Chaplain (1st Lt.) Father Samuel M. Gray, assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Jan. 8, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard by Airman 1st Class Megan Floyd)

U.S. Air Force Chaplain (1st Lt.) Father Samuel M. Gray, assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., Jan. 8, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard by Airman 1st Class Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. -- "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Mt. 11:28

Have you ever thought to yourself "If one more person asks me to do something, I will jump right up across this desk and so help me I will not be responsible for my actions..."? Well I have and I imagine that, due to recent events, quite a few of you have. It has not been easy yet we, as a Swamp Fox family, have united together in mutual support and have excelled in our resilient response to June's crisis. We should be proud how well we have handled a crisis while simultaneously accomplishing our mission. Late nights and early mornings have been the order of the day for many of us over the last few weeks so it is vital to remember that in caring for one another we must also care for ourselves and rest. Without rest our work performance goes down and we can easily feel anxious, stressed, exhausted and irritable.

This was the case with Martha who was serving dinner to Jesus and some of his disciples. Her list was full of things to do and she was burnt out and at her wits end. Rather than helping Martha check off all the tasks on her list, Mary was resting quietly at Jesus' feet and Martha had had enough. Looking up to Martha, Jesus said to her "Martha, Martha....you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her." (Luke10:41-42).

In other words, rest is good and necessary! In trying to accomplish our daily tasks we can easily feel like Martha overworked, overstressed and exhausted. If we do not rest we will soon burn out. Rest rejuvenates us. It makes us healthier, happier, more balanced, less stressed, deepens our relationships with family and friends, offers us an opportunity to evaluate our life's direction and increases our productivity! Rest benefits more than just physical. It benefits the whole person: mental, emotional and spiritual. It is key in getting things done while being a healthy Airman, body and soul.

If you are not yet able to get away and rest, I suggest a highly effective five-minute method of relaxation called visualization. Select a meaningful poem, picture, or a passage from scripture and find a quiet, relaxed place where you will not be bothered. Then close your eyes and let your worries drift away. Read the passage once for understanding then again to imagine the scene. Picture it as vividly as you can--everything you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Imagine yourself as one of the characters or as an observer in the scene. If you are thinking about a dock on a quiet lake, imagine walking slowly around the dock and notice the colors and textures around you. See the sun setting over the water. Hear the birds singing. Are there any people? Are they speaking to you? Speak back! Smell the pine trees. Feel the cool water on your bare feet. Taste the fresh, clean air.

This exercise may not come as easy to some as it does to others but give it a try and see if it doesn't help. The dog days of summer are fast approaching and with our deployment departures soon accomplished, now is the time to find rest. Schedule some time to get away, to meditate, read, listen to music or just have fun! When you do, the next time someone asks you for help, you will not be so tempted to hop across your desk. Choose the "better part" and you will be more productive in the thing that really matters, caring for each other!