On this past Thursday afternoon when I arrived to work, I was informed by co workers that one of our most bubbling coworkers was devastated by the death of her youngest son(18 y/o) by random gunfire, as he waited at a bus stop a block away from his home. Her motherly intuition kicked in when she heard the sounds of death piercing the silent morning ; Minutes later she and her husband arrived on the scene to witness every parents worst nightmare. Just two days earlier co-workers joked with her about the tasty barbecue her husband had grilled, and sent word back to him how we appreciated his barbecue skills. She laughed uproariously and commented, “I will show tell him,what you’ve said” as she took pride in sharing with her coworkers the love and labor of her families July 4th festivities.
That afternoon of work covered us with a shawdow of pain, bewilderment and sorrow that until now was never shared by this close-knit group of co-workers. That evening work was no longer important, although we continued to work as nothing had occurred. We were helpless as to comforting her and her family although several coworkers were at her side throughout the morning before coming to work. Her pain was our pain ,and her lost was our lost, as we continued to receive information of the incident . Our sorrow resonated with other periphery co -workers as the word began to spread in the work area; Others begin to flood our immediate work area offering prayers ,support and presence as to affirm what we all felt from each other before ,that our work family (and environment) is affected by the joy and pain of all our families.
The ironic thing about this work environment is that we may very soon have to see the coward(s) who shot her son; treat him medically and psychologically, and make sure that his safety from others and perhaps himself is secure, prior to his day in court. You see we work in the metropolitans county jail – as officers, paramedics, emergency medical techs, psychology technicians, and nurses and physicians. And although we work with the criminal population everyday, we are able (most of the time) to detach our emotions from some of the horrific stories and details that we hear, and the alledged offender(s). That is, until this mistaken identity of gun violence hit home for us.
And oh, did I mention that on the prior evening the law enforcement/corrections community was already saddened by yet another inexplicable senseless killing of a decent police officer; from all accounts an admired human being and police officer who became the victim of a crime. He too, along with a 32 y/o police officer – in another incident – who was gunned down because four young men attempted to take his motorcycle from him in front of his parents home, are the two most recent senseless killings in this urban area – both occurring within sixty days of each other.
Both killings were senseless, both were innocent victims, both were sworn to serve and protect, and both were outstanding human beings and both were family men. My co workers son ,also, was soon to be a family man in that his girlfriend is expecting their frist child.
On this Thursday as we grieved with our co-worker, we were stopped in the middle of our shift, and placed on compound wide lock-down – meaning no movement in, or out of the correction facility by anyone, until notified. This lasted for three hours, however two hours into the lockdown we are informed of a gun being smuggled into the jail facility. Incredible as it seems, we are now potential targets of violence in our workplace.
Our community at the county jail have seen, heard, and experienced the foolishness of the cowards who inflict gun violence upon the community. But never had we taste and digested this painful reality t.v. like drama dish that the inner city youth are serving to the community at large.
On next Thursday this young man will formally be laid to rest. In our tradition, at the burial site (internment), the family, friends and coworkers will symbolically bless the casket by softly resting rose petals on the casket as it is lowered into the earth. Guns and roses , it seems, are inextricably connected, although I had never considered such a relationship; Wherever there are guns a rose must eventually be sacrificed.
The appetite of the soul can not be served with the junk-food diet the world offers. Only the Word of God can feed you, fill you, and sustain you; as well as maintain , restore, and redeem you from the toxins and trans fat of the worldly feast.
Jesus says, “I am the bread of life, he that believes in me shall never hunger and he that comes to me shall never thirst.” God wants to serve you, with His love, grace and mercy; but before he can serve you he must service you. That is, he seeks utter obedience, repentance, and trust in His will for your life and well-being. God is a jealous god thus he wants the best of you; that he may bless you beyond your desires.
Therefore, in whatever condition you find yourself challenged by, just believe that God will provide . He did it for Joseph who was thrown in a deep hole and left for dead by his brothers. He did it for Abraham when he through faith, begin to sacrifice Isaac his son. And, he did it for Daniel in the lions’ den. And yes, He will do it for you if you but turn it over to Him! In each situation, the man of god trust in god, obeyed god, and waited on god. Praise be to God.
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering –waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
“When we reach the station, that will be it! we cry. When I’m 18. When I buy a new 450 SL Mercedes-Benz! When I put the last kid through college. When I have paid off the mortgage! When I get a promotion. When I reach the age of retirement, I shall live happily ever after!”
Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all, the true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us.
“Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24: This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.”
“The Station” by Robert J. Hastings
In my pursuit of doing “something else,” I received a stark reminder about doing it tomorrow.
One bright,beautiful Sunday morning, everyone in the tiny town of Anytown,Worldwide got up early and went to the local church. Before the services started, the townspeople were sitting in their pews and talking about their lives, their families, etc. Suddenly, satan appeared at the front of the church. Everyone started screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from this evil incarnate. Soon everyone was evacuated from the Church, except for one elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew, not moving , seemingly oblivious to the fact that Gods’ ultimate enemy was in his presence.
Now this confused satan a bit, so he floated up to the man and said, “Dont you know who I am? The man replied,”yep, sure do.”
Satan asked, “arent you afraid of me?” Nope, sure aint,”said the man.
Satan was a little perturbed at this and queried, “why aren’t you afraid of me?”
The old man clamly replied, “ah, been married to your sister for 48 years.”
During this season of Lent, some will undoubtingly have a Jonah experience (the biblical story of the prophet Jonah); that is, like jonah you will attempt to run and hide from Godly instructions. You will even run in the opposite direction as if you could safely avoid the presence of the Almighy God.
Thus, family and friends diss you and throw you overboard into the sea of forgetfulness due to the negativity/hardship you have brought upon them, leaving you to fend for yourself. And now you rest oh so reluctantly, in the body of the fish – where it is dark, lonely, and cold. God says to you today, stay there until you hear from me ,and do understand “my ways are not your ways nor your thoughts my thoughts says the lord”…..
I am El Caf’e 37 and I will be in constant conversation with you !!