Kate Braestrup’s Delightfully Poignant “Here When You Need Me”

I recently read this moving little book by a Unitarian minister, Kate Baestrup, who’s state trooper husband was killed suddenly in a highway accident. She becomes the plucky widow who goes to seminary school and joins the Maine Game Warden Service as a field chaplain. The warden service does everything from issuing fishing and hunting citations to tracking hardened fugitives in the state’s rugged backwoods. They also find bodies, and Chaplain Baestrup prays over them. She counsels at the tip of the Christian spear — consoling parents of lost kids who freeze to death deep in the woods or below pond ice, victims of storms and wildfires that destroy their homes, friends and lovers of hikers who push their skills to their peril. She sees a lot.

In the last of the book’s stories, Baestrup writes of an Alzheimer’s victim who wanders off in the snow and the quickly organized rural manhunt than ensues to locate him. Hundreds of volunteers from a nearby community show up in freezing, pre-dawn hours for days at a time, as the search hangs in the foggy void between rescue (of a live person) and recovery (of a body). She explains that none of the searchers knows the man — an aged and likely doomed stranger – but they still come day after day to look. Pointedly, Baestrup does not tell us what happens to him, because survival is not the message of this final vignette. Faith is.

As a middle-aged widow, a single mom and a clergywoman who has endured more than most, she asks the big theological question: what is God’s plan in all of this? Her soft, Unitarian answer is simply put: We are the plan. The volunteers who search in the cold for an anonymous lost soul, the oncology nurse who holds her patient’s hand and tells her how beautiful she looks, the firefighters who rushed up into the burning twin towers, sacrificing their lives to save others.

God is the architect, we are the plan.

Kevin Wrege, Esq.

Founder & President

Pulse Issues & Advocacy LLC

Office: 202-625-1787

Mobile: 202-253-4929

4410 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #150

Washington, DC 20016

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