Holier Than Thou
Note and Disclaimer: I have not been here for a bit, but I will always say this: M*A*S*H and its characters and plots are not mine. My overactive imagination is my responsibility and can't be reined in.
There is no one holy like the Lord. Indeed, there is no one else besides You, nor is there any rock like our God. ~1 Samuel 2:2
It had been a long OR session. It was already Saturday night and I still had not written the sermon out for mass tomorrow morning. While it felt like a daunting task, it was worse to believe that God had sent us so many tribulations that prevented a celebration of His day. I could not count the many soldiers and civilians that went through our doors.
Many of them laid recovering in Post-Op. Bunk beds reached to the ceiling with their healing. Some of them, God called home. We had Grave Registry come many times over.
I did not want to think about the latter. We had to count our blessings. We had many living because of the skill of the doctors and nurses. Everyday, I have to believe that and pray to God that they continue.
While I prayed and read the Bible to a couple of Catholic soldiers, I had to wish that. While they seemed holier than myself and much more useful, I had to remind myself that nobody is holier than God himself. He gave His gifts to them to help. Someday, while I felt useless, I will figure out my own.
When the soldiers required some rest, I backed away. Grateful that they were asleep, I walked out the doors. There was much to be done, I was told. The camp had been neglected for the past three days and there had been a serious storm that iced over the compound and destroyed many things. While the cook managed to bless us with some food, the maintenance had been lacking. Colonel Blake wanted every able man, enlisted or officer, to help clean the camp.
I could not help but agree. Stepping out, there was trash tumbling with the wind. The smells from the Mess Tent were food that rotted on the floors and tables. Some of the tents had holes in them. Even the Swamp, which was normally cluttered with paper, dirt and sweat, smelled worse than…well, a swamp, to be honest.
I did not know where to start. Gazing around, I saw that many enlisted men were already on the prowl. Klinger was sewing away while complaining about his dress. Radar was helping to dig a new latrine and managing to hide some old papers in there. Igor kept promising a clean table in the Mess Tent and some powdered orange juice. Even Rizzo was awake, clamoring about a Motor Pool with hardy any oil all over it.
Anywhere I went, I was tripping over someone or something. I only wished to be of some service. I eyed the Swamp, but saw that Major Burns was already screaming about his corner of the tent. Then, I thought of the laundry, but noted the nurses were milling in and out with the sheets and Post-Op clothing. Then, I figured that the barber and the library needed dusting and sweeping, but Zale was evident in its cleaning.
Finally, I opted to go to my own tent. Home was where people should begin, I suppose. There was a couple of holes in the roof. I would have to retrieve Klinger, but his skills did not worry me. The items for mass were underneath those holes. I had to save the bread and wine.
Immediately, I called over to Klinger in a panicked tone. He obeyed my command and rushed to my side. He noted the tears in the cloth and quickly, he transformed into a maniac soldier sewer. His heels clicked together. The dress stilled in the calming chill. Even his Sears and Roebuck hat, feathered and full of lace, stood in attention.
Saluting me with a needle in between his fingers and having thread dangle from his mouth, Klinger said, "Not to worry, Father. We shall save Christ!"
I ignored the blasphemy. I knew that Klinger did not mean to be cruel. Instead, he went to work. While the sunshine finally began to close up, I hurried inside and checked the drawers, where I kept my supplies. The structure was wet from the storm, but outwardly, not much has been damaged.
I was relieved that the wine was not drunk and the bottle was not moldy from the slush. It smelled a little by vinegar. That was normal, though. What was sent to me was not the best quality, but I was sure that He did not care. As long as we believe and the transformation was complete, the wine will always be the Blood of Christ.
I held my breath when I opened another drawer, where the bread was stored. The thin slices, the Body of Christ, were more of a concern. They were wrapped in a cloth bag. Any leaks from a storm could seep into the weak barriers. There as not only a concern for mold. I was also apprehensive about it being stuck to the bag or totally destroyed by the ice.
However, when I pulled the handle, I jumped back and exclaimed. It was unbelievable. There were rats, eating the bread of Holy Communion!
"Oh, my!" I yelled, waving my arms. "Shoo! Shoo! Get away from there!"
I felt ridiculous and startled by the rodents. But I had to do anything to get them away. They had eaten the Body of Christ! Most of it was gone.
My yelling had not moved them. I slapped one of them without hesitation and it hissed at me. It scared me a little, but I was not cowed. I grabbed anything I could and proceeded to throw it at the creatures. When that did not work, I somehow used a metal tool and took a coal from the stove. It stung both culprits and burnt a hole in the fabric.
When my anger dissipated, I realized what I had done. I speedily went to prevent a fire, patting the smoldering spot with a blanket and throwing any kind of liquid on it (save for alcohol). The rats had scurried away from the bread and ensuing chaos and that was what mattered to me.
Klinger finished by the time the rats hurried out. They slipped underneath the flaps of the tent as he walked in through the door. He saw them leave and grinned.
"I heard some noise, Father," he said. "Is everything all right?"
"Well, it is now, my son," I admitted. I finished beating the spot with the fabric and set it aside, exhausted and wet. "Those rats do not know any better. They ate the Body of Christ without it being blessed properly. For shame!"
Klinger moved closer. "You know what, Father?"
"What is it?"
"Those rats are holier than thou."
I felt weak at the knees. "What?"
"Those rats are holier than one percent of the camp," Klinger pointed out. His mouth twitched, to prevent himself from chuckling. "They nibbled on holy bread and ran through most of your supply. That's more than one person will take in a month."
I had to think about his words for a moment. Again, they felt like sacrilege. Klinger had respect for holy men and the Bible (he was Lebanese, after all). However, much like the rest of the camp, he sinned heavily. He was never guilty about it, especially wearing women's clothes to lie and cheat his way out of the Army.
This did not mean that his words were rude. The way he tried hard not to fall over was enough. After three days of hell, he needed me to find the light side of life. He needed me to understand that, even in the toughest of situation, a loss like this was not the end. Life was the most important. Material items, even though used in mass, can be replaced.
Then, when Klinger knew that I was not going to be mad, he began to laugh. At first, it came out like a snort. After a minute or so, it tumbled out. Soon, he was holding onto a tent pole for support.
I laughed along with him and helped to keep him upright. "I guess you're right, Klinger. They've had more Communion than the rest of the camp. For that matter, those rats are holier than the pope now!"