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In harm's way

Mary Hasson

“Anyone who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane has got to be nuts,”  my Dad always says.

Unless he’s an Airborne paratrooper, like my son Jim. To be precise, Jim is in training to earn his Airborne wings. Which means he’s probably jumping out of a perfectly good airplane while you are reading this.

The morning starts early--3:30 a.m. (or as a military friend says, “O-dark-hundred”). Tomorrow, though, it starts even earlier for Jim as he stands watch from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., grabs 20 winks, and then rouses himself anew to join the others at 3:30. From there it is a long three hours, packing gear, checking the chutes, rechecking, and waiting. “Hurry up and wait” takes on a new meaning when 200 cadets must undergo a meticulous safety-check of their parachutes. But wait they must, because jumping out of airplanes is a dangerous business. And down the road someday, on some unapproachable Afghani mountainside, someone’s life may depend on Jim’s mastery of this dangerous business.

I confess. While I am proud of my son’s fortitude, courage, and perseverance—not to mention the patriotism that inspires him, I hate the thought of him jumping out of airplanes, being shot at, and fighting for his life –and our lives and freedoms—in some far off corner of the world.I hate the thought of him in harm’s way, especially because I know there is nothing more that I can do, except pray. He’s a man, on his own, ready to face what comes.

And God has been teaching this worrying mother, that –guess what--He’s been taking care of Jim all the way along.

Just as important, have been God's reminders to me that harm’s way is not just an airplane with an open door to the earth thousands of feet below. Or a foreign enemy drawing a bead on my soldier-son. In fact, the only harm that threatens lasting pain is the harm inflicted by the soul’s sworn enemy, that hater of God and man alike.

Like Jim’s instructors, who have drilled life-saving moves into his muscle memory, my job as a mom has been to teach the soul-saving habits of prayer, virtue, and repentance. Jim’s ability to internalize what he has been taught will make the difference between life and death—not just in the drop zone but for all eternity.

Jumping out of an airplane? Turns out that’s the easy part.

As for me…my role is clear. Pray. Pray more.  And trust that the God who loves my son—and each one of us---will lead us home to Him.

I confess. I’m still working on it.   What about you?

Topics: Faith , Military Families , Parenting

Mary Rice Hasson, the mother of seven, is a Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C. She blogs at wordsfromcana.

View all articles by Mary Hasson

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July 25, 2014

Saint James, Apostle

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