“Are those gunshots? That sounds like gunfire. What’s going on?” Half an hour later, the helicopter that circled or hovered, went silent. Several minutes later, it took off again. “This is making me nervous; I’m locking the door. Wish I knew what was happening.” We hear intermittent gun fire, and finally tune in to a scanner. We follow what happens just four blocks away.
A police officer down, a disturbed man barricaded in a house, maybe with a hostage; the suspense builds. It is dark, and very cold. There is live video now, and a female reporter with frozen lips. Emergency vehicles of all kinds with lights that flail the wintery dark. We brew “calm-down” tea as it gets late, and we get tired. We are too tense to sleep.
Finally, just before midnight, we hear a loud BOOM, and then indistinct voices. We speculate that the loud noise was a “flash-bang,” or concussion grenade.
For about thirty-six hours, the road surrounding the incident remains blocked, or subject to police presence. The news about the injured police officer slowly emerges; whether he will live, his name. The house is boarded up when I drive past.
This Is Too Close!
My city is small! How can this violence be poised on my front step?
I can’t seem to get away from the subject of fear. Perhaps there linger things for me to deal with, you think? I see news stories, look at my FaceBook feed, read posts and tweets. Fear causes pain and division. Every story compels, every point-of-view feels at least partly legitimate.
Or causes fight or flight response. I think about safety, though, and visualize life as a police officer. I am not a police officer, nor have I been on patrol with one, so I lack realistic perspective. Still, I have seen a few situations, like the one I just described. And I can imagine.
In fact, I can imagine too well! When I go to bed at night, I think I hear voices. Or I waken and wonder, Is that smoke I smell? Does that sound like a leaky pipe to you? Then, I drift back to sleep.
Being trained to go toward the danger. To volunteer to put your life in jeopardy, for someone else, every day.
In the first week of 30 Days of Gratitude, one of the blessings I counted was Safety. To waken in a safe, warm bed, get up to enjoy a relaxed morning routine: dress when I please, eat if I am moved to eat…I like feeling safe.
That to rising from your bed, to know you might face volatile situations, trauma and traumatized victims, and angry or frightened people. To eat breakfast because it might be your last meal for several hours; to dress for danger. And to do it because you believe it is the right and honorable thing to do.
I know intellectually that no life is pain-free; we all experience pain. But I have heard that we do not have to suffer. Is that true? Is it fear that causes me to suffer? I try to live pain-free; the harder I fight it the stronger and more encompassing it becomes.
Life is uncertain…
But there is a huge difference between my uncertainty, and that of a law enforcement officer.
At lunchtime, I eat if I want, choosing a peaceful environment for my meal. An officer may have his meal interrupted by a call. And NO call is without risk. Can you think of anything less conducive to a nourishing meal than fear? But they do it daily with courage.
I have definitely experienced being stressed-out, and unable to eat. To have a situation occur that causes me to feel like I have a bowling ball in my gut. Or a frightening experience that leaves me nauseous, weak and exhausted.
I am assured…
I can relax and have a meal, right in Psalm 23. In fact, it sounds like I am invited to enjoy a spa day in peace, while my enemies plot around me! Whoa!
…He restores my failing health…Psalm 23:3
…You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies…Psalm 23:5*
I don’t know what it is like to be that relaxed. All I can do is admit that I feel fear and pain, and ask for help. Just so you know, this is not what I wanted to talk about today: fear.
But I am finally more tired of NOT dealing with it. It hurts more to deny it than to admit it. So, today I will admit it, feel it, allow it. Perhaps at the end of the examination, I will find some courage; the kind of courage a police officer exhibits when he or she goes out on a shift.
*The Living Bible
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