It happened over 20 years ago, but the lesson it is still imprinted firmly on my mind…In my role as a law enforcement chaplain, I was riding out with an officer on the day shift. This particular officer had just completed a role in a lengthy undercover narcotics operation. She had now returned to the patrol section, so I was assigned to interview her. It was our desire as chaplains to do a better job serving officers working in deep undercover assignments.
We had a very pleasant discussion that morning. In fact at one point we drove through a new neighborhood where some beautiful new homes were under construction. The streets in that development wound around well off the main thoroughfares. During our tour of homes she suddenly slammed on the brakes and said: We have just been shot and you have to tell dispatch where we are, so that they can get help to us. What is our exact location? I failed the test. I am mean I failed with a flying “F.” I had no clue what street we were on. This was a brand new sub division in the city! I was instructed that in future ride a longs I would always know our precise location. I must say that the test was highly effective. Twenty years later I always know our location during ride a long.
It occurred to me today though that I don’t always know where I am in life. And that is an equally important question. Where am I on the journey? Where do I find myself at this very moment? How can I know where I am going if I don’t know where I am right now?
It is quite possible to go through life enjoying the beauty of our surroundings without giving much thought to where we are or where things are headed. If we are suddenly ambushed by life’s circumstances, it is harder to cry out for help. We lack a sense of self awareness. During such a situation an understanding of our past, or dreams for the future are not nearly as important as grasping where we are at this very moment. How can we call for help if we don’t know where are in this very instant?
As I look back on it, I realize the officer I was with that day was experiencing hyper-vilgence. The inherent danger of undercover law enforcement has that effect. But that is not all bad. There is a life learning curve there. It is important to know where we are in life. Where am I? What I am thinking? Where am I going? And why am I making those choices today? We never know when we may need to slam on the brakes and call out for help!