Hope this finds you well. Lots of good milestones this week. At 32 weeks I have right around 20 weeks to go, which sounds pretty good to me. In 28 days I depart for R&R, arriving just before the kids' Spring Break. So that is right around the corner. With the President's announcement of a drawdown of 34K troops over the next year, we can finally start planning retrograde operations with better assumptions. All that planning will keep us pretty busy throughout most of the rest of my time here. Its busy work, moving things around and making sure we have adequate protection for our troops. So it was a good week all around.
Today as I walked out of my room, I was met by a beautiful day. Normally there is so much smog and dirt and filth in the air that you can't see very far, but this morning it was pretty clear, and there were great views of snow capped mountains. It struck me that those mountains stood as a witness of God and a promise of better things if people were willing to reach out and accept it. The snow there, if captured, represents the promise of agriculture and plenty--no reason they need to live in the dust bowl they live in. It seemed to suggest peace. It was a warm day as well, and spring was in the air--my mind turned to the great symbols God has given us of death in Winter and rebirth in Spring. New opportunities for life and hope. Truly nature witnesses that there is a God in heaven.
I am not much of a photographer, but one of my favorite pictures is one I took at the Garden of Gethsemane. Among the ancient olive trees, well dunged, sprang a single purple flower--as if to say that out of the greatness of the mother tree, and richness of its soil, a small but significant life arises. All life is dependent on the light and atonement of our Savior. I had that picture turned into a large print which I have hung in my office. No one has ever asked me what it is, but I feel like it represents my testimony to any who would look upon it.
All of nature is a witness of truth. I had a roommate in college that was a Geology major. He was a fun guy to go hiking with, because he could point out all the various rock formations and explain the history behind them. He was also a die hard atheist, as if there are any other kind. We went on a backpacking trip once, and got to a glorious place--tall trees, a large cliff, a waterfall, on a low ridgeline, but high enough to see across a small valley. We stopped and he told me about the cliff and we talked about how amazing that location was. I asked him to stop for a moment and look around. After a minute or so, I asked him if he could really believe among all the order he could see that this was all just an accident of nature. He didn't have much to say about that, and so I took a chance to testify that I knew and that he could know from how he felt, that the things of nature testified there was a God. We walked off, and he didn't say much, but I know that in that moment, he felt it was true as well.
I hope that in some of the Afghan hearts today, and days like it, people will look up and see the glory of nature, and know not only that there is a God, but that he is a God of peace, who desires our happiness. That such a vision might inspire peace, charity, order, stewardship and community is my hope and prayer.