Early mourning thoughts and prayers…

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Officer Guindon (center), Prince William County Police, died on her first shift during a domestic disturbance. She was shot and killed. Two other officer were injured.

I’m thinking a lot this morning about my first shift, my first arrest, and the many men and women who helped me have a great (if relatively short) law enforcement career. They actually helped me become who I am today, and so I always give God thanks for them and my experiences. It is why I volunteer as a police chaplain today – to try to give back.

And yet, I’m also recalling the joy my family felt having just seen me graduate from the police academy, and then on that same weekend, seeing their fear as I headed out to my first midnight shift. I also remember with love coworkers injured and killed as a result of their desire to serve others. Thus, Officer Guindon’s death is somehow personal to me, as with every law enforcement death. I can’t help it. I feel like a piece of me has died, although I know it doesn’t make much sense to many.

How many Officer Guindon’s are out there? How many such families sacrifice, live in fear, or are now grieving across our country? How must her Field Training Officer and fellow officers feel as this recruit died and as they try to make sense of it? They all need our active support and prayer.

And yet, I don’t know how to pray for this. She was on her first shift, and the hope of last Friday has turned into community shock and grief spreading across the Thin Blue Line. I remain at a loss for words, especially as law enforcement officers in our country continue to be so quickly and openly hated, condemned and needlessly die. And so, I find comfort in these words. “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Romans 8:25-26).

To my brothers and sisters still fighting the fight, you are not alone. God has not forgotten you. God will make good come from this evil, although we do not yet know how. No life dedicated to the service and love of neighbor is a wasted one, no matter how short. I remain in communion with you, and you will all be with me at worship this morning in my heavy but hopeful heart.

The Rev. Louis Florio is a former member of the City of Alexandria Police Department and current volunteer law enforcement chaplain with Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Crime Clinic. He currently serves as pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church and School, Mechanicsville, VA. This post may be shared freely with proper attribution.

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2 Comments

Filed under Crime, policing

2 responses to “Early mourning thoughts and prayers…

  1. On the last day of my brother’s life, hours before he would be gunned down in the line of duty, he had posted a photo of his first day as a police officer in honor of Officer Guindon. This breaks my heart (my brother is recently fallen Euless PD officer David Hofer).

    • As I was in local training (after the academy and prior to hitting the streets), an officer, Corporal Charles Hill who had been one of my firearm instructors, was murdered during a hostage standoff. The anniversary of his death is today. It affected the entire department, even we new recruits. His loving service and sacrifice (I believe) helped shape my own. I can’t pretend to know how you feel, but I know your don’t grieve alone. My heart goes out to you, and I give thanks to God for your brother’s service. I can say with confidence that your brother’s life still matters: to his coworkers as they sought and still to do good and protect each other from harm (they have been touched by his faithful service), by the countless people (many who will never be publicly known) that will remember the kind service and safety he undoubtedly provided, and of course, his family and friends. Love is never wasted, and through his service to friend and neighbor, he certainly fulfilled Jesus’ declaration, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” For those of us left behind, the wound remains deep and life-long. Yet, we aren’t without hope. We have Christ’s promise that those who mourn will be comforted. He told us we will never be alone. And a promise in Paul’s letter to the Romans (chapter 8) assures us that not even death will separate us from God’s love. As you continue to mourn, I pray that God send you the people you need, but also the people that need you: to walk together through loss, to share memories of your brother, to find together the love that will bringing healing to unspeakable loss. As indicated in my essay, know that the Holy Spirit prays for you and with you even when you don’t have the words. I, too, will remain in communion with you, and if I can be of any help, feel free to contact me. In the meantime, I join the Holy Spirit in prayer for you and all those too many people who have lost their loved ones in service of justice and peace in a wounded world.

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