A start to Lent

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace.

I hadn’t dressed for a crime scene last Wednesday. I dressed for court. And I was so proud of myself for getting up early and getting round, competing with A (now the hubby) who bounces out of bed early every morning, all ready to go.  But I didn’t get to court. I got a phone call. A woman, maybe a child, shot at a bus stop in a bad neighborhood. Temperatures were in the low 20’s. It was going to be a long morning.

Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal Your will to me.

There’s really nothing like that first view at the death scene. The crime scene tape, the blood-stained sheet…your brain wants it to be a TV show or something. But if you’re paying attention, you know it’s not. You know that that sheet covers a person, a human being, a child of God. Who was a moment ago, but who is not now. You want to distance yourself from that, so you make a joke with the cop you know or you talk with the prosecutor about how cold it is. You do anything to not think, at that very moment, about the awful.

Bless my dealings with all who surround me.

I wear a ridiculous hat in the wintertime. It is awesome — alpaca wool with a cream pompom on top. It covers my ears and it is warm. In the suburbs, when standing outside a palatial two-story while FBI agents search it, it makes me appear harmless to the neighbors as they speculate about where that money came from. In other neighborhoods, though, it is just as ridiculous as it looks. It looks as out of place as you would expect it would amid  people with cigarettes and tattoos on their necks, pants sagging and flat-billed baseball hats cocked sideways.

“Man, I heard he just pulled her off that m****f***in’ bus. Just shot her, right there. Said ‘you ain’t riding this bus’ and …f***.”


“Yeah, then that m****f*** just ran. Nobody knows where he’s at.”

Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with the firm conviction that Your will governs all.

I saw the victim’s advocate taking two small children from the back of a police car. Their little worried faces shielded from the cruel reality just half a block away. I do not think they know yet what no child should ever know. I smile at the advocate. I see her all the time in the courthouse–shepherding the families of the dead, comforting the abused as they face the ones who took what did not belong to them. She smiles back, that smile you get when its nothing to smile about, but you don’t know what else to do.

In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings.

After hours at the edge of the police tape, my feet freezing off in spite of the brief refuge in a friendly officer’s squad car, my photographer and a columnist and I head out. The columnist to the office. The photographer and I were headed there, but the scanner traffic sent us somewhere else. Another neighborhood, a better neighborhood, where the police are putting on body armor and preparing to storm a house. They think the m****f*** who just ran off after putting a shotgun to a mother’s head in front of a city bus may be holed up inside.

So we go there. We watch them prepare to kill a person. And we wait for that to happen.

In unforeseen events let me not forget that all are sent by You.

There was nothing at that house, in spite of their searching and patience. I walk back to my car and selfishly rejoice that I won’t hear that shot today. I also give thanks it’s not my husband putting on the tactical gear and getting in that mindset.  Then I feel bad and think about how it will probably be another one of my coworkers hearing that shot later because they’ll find that guy and it’s going to be someone else’s husband pulling that trigger. And we all know this is only going to end one way. We tell more jokes because it’s more awful.

Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others.

I go to a couple meetings, but the difference in the environment is striking. Just a few hours ago, I saw the firemen spray the gore off the sidewalk. I saw evidence teams put the woman’s backpack in a garbage bag. And now I’m listening to some suit talking about how he blah blah blah blah. I can’t even concentrate, so I pile my plate with veggies. It’s Lent. I’m supposed to be feeding my soul, right?

Give me strength to bear the fatigue of this coming day with all that it will bring.

Early in the afternoon, we learn the shooter holed up in another house with a 3-year-old child as a hostage. Another reporter is there, keeping watch. I’m back in the newsroom to write.

Wednesday night was the first Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts. I love that service. Probably my favorite service, not counting Pascha. But I’ve been downing coffee, nibbling on carrots and nuts, and swearing up a storm. So much for a fast leading up to the Eucharist.

J’s phone rings. It’s the other reporter.  The 3-year-old is safe. The shooter is dead. She’ll come back and we’ll write a story about how horrible things happen. They happen all the time, but this day they happened at the corner of East Pettit and Reed.

Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray You Yourself in me.

I don’t make it to church. No icons surround me on my drive home, just images of that woman, her white tennis shoes sticking out from under the sheet.


The italicized phrases are from St. Philaret of Moscow’s Morning Prayer. I try to say it every day. Some days it means more than others.