Serving in uniform since 1985, full and part-time, I hung up the sword last Friday, March 1, AD 2013, a year after my return from Afghanistan. No one was as a surprised as I was when the decision came to me as I walked on my Afghan base thinking nothing in particular, for my plans were to return home and continue on to my next promotion. As the year went by, the insight coalesced, took shape, and strengthened. Come last Fall, I knew what I had to do. It felt right. I asked for retirement and I never looked back.
I would be lying to you if I tell you I came back completely unscathed in soul and body from my assignment, one that was relatively uncomplicated and not as taxing as that of the front-line soldier, marine, sailor, or airman. No, it didn’t and the subsequent psychological and bodily fatigue took a toll from which I haven’t recovered in toto. If this is the way it has been with me, I can’t imagine how it has been for those who have watched death close up, or have suffered the loss of limb or those other deeper wounds that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Though I am fortunate – and I know that God protected me – anyone who goes to fight in a war returns with invisible wounds, and one carries them quietly, oblivious to the eyes of those around us. My wounds are, comparatively speaking, mere scratches.
Therefore, I have returned to my civilian job with a new consciousness that there are other priorities in my life taking precedence over the pursuit of another medal, ribbon, or a silver oak leaf upon my shoulders. I belong to my family, to my wife, children, and grandchildren. I belong to the cause of peace, the Peace of Christ, the Shalom-Peace that He only can give. This implies a lot of retraining, since there is much of the knightly in me, and of the righteous use of the sword in defense of justice, liberty, and the American way. Yet, There are other worse evils to fight, to keep at bay, and these can only be fought by Love, with a hand open in total disarmament. This retraining will not come easily to me, but I must undergo it.
As some of you may know already, my return to civilian work entailed a transfer and yet another move to Northern Virginia, in the Washington, DC commuting region. I had to leave behind my home of almost 20 years and ready access to my beloved children and grandchildren in pursuit of this opportunity. My wife and I are now starting over alone, as we haven’t been since the birth of our firstborn. The transfer and the move created their own goodbyes and broken hearts, adding radical dislocation to a year of war.
Please keep us in your prayers, as we discern where the Lord wants us to be in this new period of our lives. I want to put my one or two talents to work, and I have discerned that this move and new surroundings are part of His will, but it is still not clear to me what I must do. I am willing, but my flesh is weak and wearied.
To my comrades in arms who remain in the services I wish them the best, and all the blessings and protections the Lord grants to the elect ones. God bless you all, thank you for your service, and may all of you be able to return home to your loved ones, whole in body and mind. Amen.
I also want to note that this is my 3,000th post! I feel like Roberto Clemente probably felt when he hit his 3,000 ball. Elated.