of Alaska, I spent seven hours with the family and fellow police officers of Pierce County Deputy Sheriff Kent Mundell, on Western Christmas Day. Returning to the monastery around eight this evening, and spending time with my monastic community (and Hammie, our beloved Norwegian Forest Cat sitting in my lap), I’ve found myself unable to sleep. I sent out my blog, The Morning Offering, around 1:45 a.m., and am still wide awake at 5.
I feel a certain sense of peace in my heart, having experienced an abundance of God’s grace, today. One of the greatest blessings of my priesthood, are times like this, when the Lord blesses me to be His presence among those who are suffering, and those who are nearing the end of their life.
The family of this fallen officer were gathered around his hospital bed, with the man they called “son”, “husband”, and “father”, on the day Western Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. Following the murderous actions of one of the worst that humanity has to offer, I was witness to the best of humanity.
There are now two more children who are about to lose their father, a wife about to lose her husband, and a couple from Texas, about to lose their son. All this due to a man who lived a life given over to evil, and who’d threatened his own sixteen year old daughter with a knife (the very young woman who helped her uncle drag a mortally wounded deputy into the kitchen, and performing CPR, after barricading themselves in the kitchen, for fear of this horrible relative.)
Counter to a life given over to evil, I was witness to the best of what humanity has to offer. A family man, who loved his wife and children, and who lived his life protecting his community as a law enforcement officer. I witnessed a wonderful Christian couple, “Mama” Ginger Passarelli, and her husband Harvey Senecal, who gave up their own Christmas, to prepare and serve a full Christmas dinner, in a staff room of the hospital, to the extended family of this dying officer. I met young police officers standing guard at a hospital room, knowing that could be themselves one day, yet bravely standing firm in their own vocation. Looking into these young faces (young enough to be my grandchildren), I saw youthful commitment, and a certain innocence, even with the full knowledge that there is great evil out there.
I was inspired by the commitment of the medical staff, doing what they do best, and following their own God called vocation, bringing healing to those who are ill. I witnessed the death of a man in a neighboring room, following a “code blue”.
This world of ours is in a terrible state, yet everywhere I looked, I saw goodness, like Officer John Abraham, the Safety Coordinator for the Seattle Police Department, who ministered in his own powerful way, with a kind and gentle heart that made me feel warm, like being with an old and dear friend. John is a man who has seen a lot of evil in his day, yet has managed to remain kind and giving, just like numerous police officers, from Canada to New York City, from Portland, Oregon, to a small town in Wyoming, that I’ve been privileged to meet, during these past few weeks.
Following the slaughter of the four Lakewood Police Department officers, and the heart breaking funeral at the Tacoma Dome, our community is now facing the third police funeral in less than two months. I now find myself wishing I were a younger man, and could be a police chaplain, full time. Yet I return to my monastery, and my duties as abbot, and experience the joy and peace that is my life in Christ, a peace that can only come from Christ. This world is full with evil, but the birth of Christ has given us all hope, for we know that, ultimately, goodness will prevail.
As People of Faith, we know the importance of intercessory prayer, yet too often forget the necessity of remembering those who serve our communities, as police officers, fire fighters, and members of the armed forces. We owe it to them, and should make it a daily priority to pray for these courageous men and women who attempt, in a powerful way, to make this world safe for good people, and for little children.
With love in Christ,