For the last three years, I have had this space to talk about my own faith journey and the points of contact between the broader world and how that informs said journey. It is now time to move on: part of this military life is the constant transition from duty station to duty station, and it is my privilege to go and serve with a battalion of Marines out of Camp Pendleton. During my tour here, many of you have stopped and thanked me for what I’ve written here. One of the big surprises was when you’d stop me in the store—I didn’t realize my picture went with the article! I thought I was flying incognito. But, I’d now like to turn that thanks around and thank you for the last three years. There have been any number of people who have made this tour meaningful to me, I may not remember who they all are in this short few paragraphs. Be assured, any oversight speaks more to my limited memory rather than any shortcomings on your part.
Thank you to everyone who helped me as I became part of this community three years ago. I think of all the businesses who welcomed me with open arms—not just trying to sell me something, but to value me as part of the community—you truly embody the best of what a business can mean to the citizens of this area. I also think of the numerous civic groups who allowed me to be involved with what is going on: the Military Affairs Committee always treated me as a valued member of what they were doing and allowed me to contribute to the well-being of service members in the High Desert. The Barstow Chamber of Commerce invited me to be a part of so many events that I think I eventually met everyone in Barstow. The Scouting community in Barstow was a great place for my family, where we were all able to invest in the city—thanks Troops 116 & 169 (and Pack 169, too!). Getting to know all of the local folks I interacted with has been a tremendous joy. Some of my colleagues remarked that I could run for mayor after seeing how many people I interacted with at the Mud Run in 2012. I don’t know about holding political office, but I count myself as privileged for having known so many of you who seek to make your community the best possible place.
Thank you to the congregation of Marine Memorial at MCLB. Many times chaplains look forward to getting away from chapels and heading back out to the field. But, you made it a joy to be in installation ministry as you sought to care for me and my family. Thank you to the Barstow Christian Ministerial Alliance. Rarely have I seen such a group of pastors and church members committed to one another. In an age of competition and dissension, you have embodied unity and singularity of purpose. Thanks for covering at the chapel on various occasions for the sake of our people, and so I could go on vacation. A special word of thanks to my command: I count it an honor to have served with many great Marines and Sailors, and a dedicated civilian workforce.
Thank you, readers, for sharing this journey with me. I considered it my goal to share some sacred space with you, finding places where culture and faith can join in conversation. From the responses I’ve received, I think many of you reflect on these things at length, too. I’m glad that we were able to walk together on that path for the last three years. God’s blessings be upon all of you, and Semper Fidelis.