Running Through Red Lights

Over the decades I have shared the enjoyment…and yes, at times pure terror, I experienced as a volunteer Police Chaplain with the Colorado Springs Police Department. During my church ministry there, 1980-88, one night a month I rode with a police officer. My presence had one purpose: to be available should any extreme crisis occur.

There were 31 of us to fill the volunteer chaplaincy. That gave us one night a month to be present. We didn’t know the officer we rode with, met him or her at the downtown police station. The time varied, but I liked from at least 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Seems that darkness and the untoward were related if not symbiotic. [Hey, that just slipped in…the multi-syllable word!]

For whatever reason today I made a discovery of what that volunteer time really meant…but that’s for the last paragraph.

I can recall, almost the verbiage of discovery, word for word. The incidents were random, and yet they were the substance of life. I always wished evil was more a stranger. A wish never realized.

To a point, we tried out best to help…the murder, the suicide, the domestic quarrel. One morning at 3 a.m. I stood over 3 bodies in a bar, the result of a son shooting his father, his father’s mistress and himself. I bounced over a hill and valley, sirens muting any words. I helped with a death notification…at 5 in the morning. It was the wrong house. I helped track down a prostitute who stole a “client’s” watch and billfold. The prostitute’s name was Brown Sugar. That led to a tour of prostitutes in Colorado Springs—hey, I rode as a passenger with Sargent Grover. I remember when he opened his album of Colorado Spring’s “finest,” I looked over his shoulder. He closed the book, “Reverend why are you looking over my shoulder?” I smiled, “Just wanted to see if any of our church members were there.” No, there weren’t any.

Perhaps the most dramatic was my first night—have written about this before—when after saying hello to Officer Cox, she raced off into the night because she learned, “a robbery in progress.” When we got to the supposed “heist place,” parked in an alley of a strip mall, she jumped out, took out her revolver, looked back in the car and said, “Come on, Reverend, we’re in this together.” I shook my head, “No we aren’t.”

What a way to start a relationship—officer and chaplain.

Then today—lots of “then today” are happening to me. I suddenly realized why those six years of riding monthly meant so much. Because in riding around in a car for six hours, not every minute was tracking down the bad guys or helping the hurt guys.

The time was sharing…and for reasons I may never understand and certainly don’t push, those six hours were powerful sharing. I tried to keep the communication benefit ratio of one mouth and two ears. By the end of the six hours, more often than not, the officer shook my hand and said with gratitude, “This has been one of my best nights. Thanks for listening.”

That isn’t self-promotion! It is simply what matters the most. Aside from the “event” what matters the most is for two people to share with each other…matters of the heart and the soul and the personal situation. What matters is someone listens and is fully committed to understanding—far more than judgment.

Ah, relationships. The substance of living and the value of being alive.

How about you? Whether or not you’re zooming through intersections, red light or green, sirens blasting? I ask again, how about you…what matters? What really matters?

About Mark H Miller

Diane and I live in Leander, Texas. This past June 17, 2015 I celebrated the 49th anniversary of my ordination. We returned to Texas after three years in Washington, during which I served as interim minister in Bellevue/Eastgate and Mercer Island. Am planning to begin a 5th novel that will have my protagonist, Tricia Gleason, serve a year in licensed ministry in Snoqualmie, Washington. The novel, "The Lemon Drop Didn't Melt," will find Tricia wrestling with ministry challenges. None of which more daunting than someone wanting her breathing to stop. All the published novels are available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle under Mark Henry Miller. A primary goal in our return to Texas is to make sure grandchildren get lots of attention--here and in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Traveling is definitely an activity that will not slow down. With that, of course, fishing will happen. To that the t-shirt is apt, "I fish; therefore I am." In addition to novels, the book of Blogs, "Voice Of My Heart," is also available on Amazon.
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