Springing Up

It has been a busy spring. I had a week of leave during which my family and I visited East Tennessee. Early in the week we hiked part of the Appalachian trail on Roan Mountain making our way through four foot snow drifts. The next day we were in almost 80 degree weather at Dollywood for the festival of nations.

I love going down to Dollywood. These is a centering aspect to the experience, visiting places were old fashioned home town values and religion are still central to people's experiences of life, unlike so many other place I frequent these days. I was blessed to be reminded too, that while where I am faith in Jesus is considered quaint and out of date, that for much of the world the Gospel is still very much alive. There was a group of vocalists from an african nation that in the midst of doing their traditional vocal chants suddenly broke out into very traditional gospel songs - common ground between the simple folk of Tennessee and the surrounding area visiting the park and these wonderful simple people of faith from a land far away. God is good - all the time!

Last week I had a church conference at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The topic of the day concerned the intersection of Just War Theory and pastoral care as well as Constitutional Law and the military chaplaincy. I learned a great deal on both fronts and will say that following a straight forward and clear exposition from a strong legal standpoint on the latter topic that I am much reassured about the future outcome of legal efforts to oppose or even disband the chaplaincy. I even had the blessing of doing my PT run on the beach with the seagulls - had the beach pretty much to myself that afternoon.

Coming home spring has come full bore. All our flowers are in bloom, as well as my neighbors Tulips. I am quite blessed to have a neighbor with such a green thumb.

My funeral schedule is robust and I am starting to complete items for my upcoming move out of the country to my next duty station.

Yesterday our team made history for the Air Force at Arlington. We had our first full honors ceremony for an enlisted member of the Air Force. TSgt Phillip Meyers was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan on the 4th of April. It was incredible to see the huge turn out from Congressmen, to flag officers of several services, to cabinet secretaries, all the works - it was heartening to see so many seek to bring what comfort can be brought to the grieving family. May God bless them today and always.

I've done three active duty services, all from Iraq. Each one was very special to me as I have tread some of the same sand. But each one is unique though the cost is the same - the ultimate price for our nation and for freedom. I go back to those graves from time to time to offer a small prayer that God keep their families in His keeping.

Now that warmer weather is here, (it was hot today) I've been getting up at 5 am and walking or running in our nearby park, what is becoming a time of great refreshment for me. The park is filled with wildlife including a nesting park of some kind of hawk, a nesting pair of Mallards, innumerable turtles, and bunches of wood peckers. For city living - it ain't bad.