Life has flown by, it seems like only moments before it was morning, but now the afternoon shadows grow long and sunset approaches. And Veteran’s Day reminds me of how I spent a sizable chunk of that day; when the sun blazed its brightest and filled the earth with life. And so I ponder for a moment the past and its meaning for the present. Is there anything about being a vet that gives me increased or diminished vision? Has the experience of military service left my soul wounded and bitter or has it enhanced my connection with this planet and her inhabitants? Would I change anything or everything about my life-spent in the service of my country?
Truth is I am still trying to make sense of all of that. You see I know that my life and the lives of the ones I love most in this world would have been profoundly different had I never raised my right hand and said, “I solemnly swear…” It is easy to think of all I lost in that fateful moment. In twenty-two years in the Navy I missed my family more than I can tearlessly say. Deployments and distant assignments kept me from important moments when I know I should have been home. In my last year, just before I put in my papers for retirement my cousin Mary died from cancer. I could not be there. And I felt vacant and empty. I knew then it was time; time to go home.
I knew I had finished the course; I had done my duty. And I looked forward to the life and ministry that l lay ahead. And I still do. Life is a great adventure and I am greatly encouraged by the opportunities that lay ahead. My children have grown up to be wonderful, independent and successful people. Yet I miss them and the days we will never have again. I wonder from time to time if I had stayed put and they would have enjoyed the nurture of a single church family if they would have been more blessed. Of course they don’t feel that way. The adventure of living overseas and around this great country has stimulated their intellect and broadened their perspectives on life.
So in the end I ruminate with no clear answers. What is, is. And I’m glad that what has been , was. And the future is a sunrise away.