On the Corner

Hasta luego, Linda

by Robert Docter – 

Spanish—as John Larsson describes it, “the language of heaven”—seems to communicate a wonderful intensity of feeling. Hasta luego means—“see you later.” Had I the opportunity to tell you good-bye, I think I’d have used those words for they imply that we will meet again.

My feelings, I suspect, are echoed in the chests of thousands you have touched during your time with us. You have led with a power and perseverance that have generated pride in our Army. You have modeled for all who share leadership responsibilities a precise focus and direction of goals—an openness to tactical alternatives—a sharing of responsibility—a clarity in communication—and an inspiring message that motivates us to action. You have modeled Christian principles and spoken to us as one having authority. There is something about you that made us feel good about you and ourselves. We identified fully with your dreams for us as individuals, for the corps in which we served, for the territory you made your own, and for our Army that seems always needing to be both preserved and changed simultaneously. And you did it all with such class.

Hasta luego triggers a slight sense of sadness colored with hope. It says our parting is not permanent, and that part of you that is spirit will not disappear. Nevertheless, I feel the sadness of your sudden, silent departure. I grieve the loss of your physical presence, your intellect, your perceptiveness and your wisdom. The grief triggers a wide array of emotions that seem to rotate through me—some anger, some hurt, considerable confusion, and an empty, unpleasant state of being unfinished.

These feelings re-stimulate patterns of thought. I am, on occasion, disgusted with my meandering mind—sorting through reasons that might explain your departure. You have announced this has occurred for “personal reasons.” My mind-games must simply be part of the human condition. What an unproductive energyconsuming process. What disrespect. I apologize.

I know I am responsible for my own feelings. They are the products of my mind—of my flowing interpretations of events. I know they are not “bad” feelings, for feelings have no positive or negative valence. They are simply feelings, and they are necessary for me to experience at this time. I know that if I experience these feelings and respect them I am moving through a process that on some soon sweet day will bring acceptance.

I’ll survive—we’ll survive because we’ll be moving, and God loves moving feet. We’ll be marching—marching on—and I’ll either be playing in the band or waving the flag at the front of the line. No matter what—I’ll feel you there with me.

I think much of my feeling is for you, personally. My admiration and respect for you is steadfast. I admire your courage. Having your total identity rolled into the package of Salvation Army officership must leave you a little unsettled. I know you will be successful in establishing a new identity. I hope a portion of that identity includes the word “Salvationist.”

This is an army, and when you’re in battle you don’t have much time to ponder. You need to keep moving forward. That’s what we’re going to do. Never fear. The sergeants are lining up the troops even as we speak. The band is slowly forming, and the flags are snapping in the wind.

The General did exactly the right thing in appointing the Luttrells as territorial leaders (I figure he’ll be pleased with my approval). I’ve known them for half a lifetime, and they are solid, caring, dedicated, and strong. They’re ready to lead the march, and as our coming “program year” kicks into action immediately after Labor Day we’re going to rally around the banner—hold it high—and never let the old flag fall. So, you’ve started something big and helped us shift out of low gear. Pretty soon we’ll be going eighty—just like all those cars on Los Angeles freeways.
Vaya con Díos, Linda—hasta luego.


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