“The Cherry Orchard” is comedic drama written by Anton Chekhov. The first action in the play is the arrival of the Ranevsky family on their country estate. This arrival into a lonely place builds a feeling of expectation that something will happen. Life has a chance of taking hold.
Likewise, arriving at a new place, or at a new posting, brings expectations with it. These expectations may be positive, or maybe not. Nevertheless, a person coming to a new place or an empty place, if you will, means that there is a possibility that something new or different can happen. This is what most of us have at the back of our minds when we get somewhere we have never been. What will it be like living or working here? Will the folks who are already here help me to make a good new beginning?
Naturally, we all need to make an effort ourselves, and look for the potential in a new place or situation that exists for us to grab onto. Deciding that a place, the place where I am, has no potential, that it offers nothing worthwhile is a deadly first mistake.
In “The Cherry Orchard” the family cannot make up their mind over adopting modern methods of organizing their estate, and in the process take on modern methods of money making. They seem to know that this kind of change is needed, but they are weighed down by nostalgia for “the good old days;” the days of their happy childhood, and so on. The Ranevskys cannot bring themselves to break with the way things were. In spite of there being potential for new prosperity and new growth, the landowning family chooses to carry on as they were, and end up losing their family birthright.
When as a chaplain, I hear a military member speak of his or her workplace as “where Greens come to wither away.” I wonder how much of the problem is the place itself, and how much is the member’s frame of mind. Like the Ranevskys in “The Cherry Orchard,” we can choose to behave as though everything should be as it was when life was good, not thinking that we ourselves have an important part to play in adapting to new circumstances. We can refuse to look for the potential that exists in the place or time where we find ourselves.
Being confronted with negativity on reaching a new place can be a morale killer. As well, listening to gossip about a place can poison one’s mind and make a positive experience impossible. The truth is that, indeed, something will go “off” sooner or later, but this does not have to be the theme for your whole experience of a place. We should all be ready to deal with things for ourselves; must I feel bored or isolated or alone? Can I do absolutely nothing about this? If I can do nothing, is there really no one who could help? Seek out these blessings first, and this should help soften the bumps for the way ahead.
Let’s get to know Padre Nicholas Young
Life has a way of leading you to unforeseen places. Padre Nicholas Young never thought of being a chaplain until a friend suggested the idea. He was at the time an associate priest in Toronto, in support of the Orthodox Christian community.
Padre Young said, “Orthodoxy is culturally diverse, which can be a challenge. One day you’re speaking to a Greek, then the next a Russian, and then a convert who was brought up with no religion. You have to learn to listen and be patient. It was this need to listen to what everyone and anyone has to say that helped me make a smoother transition to the Military Chaplaincy in 2013.”
Padre Young began his military career at CFB Kingston serving with the Joint Signals Regiment and 21 Electronic Warfare Regiment. This served as a good place to be “broken in” with the operational demands not being overly strenuous for the unit chaplains. Regular field exercises were the norm, which helped everyone involved get a taste for future deployments.
Following this, Padre Young had the privilege of working with 3 R22eR, the “Vandoos,” at Valcartier, which gave him a small taste of the physical hardships that soldiers must undergo in the field. Before coming to Cold Lake, he also served with 5 Service Battalion, the first unit to have Sentinels. This is a unit of which he has fond memories.
Serving with the Air Force, and in a semi-isolated place, is bound to have its challenges; unlike anything that Padre Young experienced with the Army. However, no matter the situation, a chaplain’s job stays the same: listen and try to be ready for any and all eventualities.