Reflections on First Responders and ‘Losing Life to Gain Life’

Reflections on first responders in anticipation of First Responders Sunday (Sept 16 at Jackson Community Church) and ‘losing life to gain life’ as themes from Mark 8.

I find myself wondering: How do we discern what we should be fierce about? How do we choose what we will hold on to, and what we need to release? … Some crosses are made of what we take on; some crosses are made of what we let go … Where is this place in your own life? How do you discern what you will hold on to, what you will claim and fight for, and what you will release? How does this choosing, this discerning, draw you closer to … what God might imagine for your life? — Jan Richardson

I am so small, I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?
Look at your eyes; They are small,
But they see enormous things
How shall I help the world?
By understanding it.
And how shall I understand it?
By turning away from it.
How then shall I serve humanity?
By understanding yourself.
— Rumi

When Those Sirens Are Gone Kevin Davison
It was a dark and stormy night, Nor’Easter rollin’ in
it’s a long twelve hours, the power’s out again
i pray for inner strength and that we don’t lose no lives
just another day in a first responders eyes
half a cup of coffee’s gone, the first run comes in
car slid off the road, there’s a family trapped within
my heart beats like a hammer, i can barely catch my breath
i’m thinking the worst and hoping for the best
yeah cause we ain’t super heroes, we’re just ordinary people
trying to make a difference and the first on every scene
and it’s a heavy heavy burden to carry all this hurting
when you can’t unsee the things you’ve seen
it keeps going on, when those sirens are gone

now my shift is finally over, i gotta deal with what’s mine
and try to find a way, to leave those tragedies behind
so i hug my two children, i kiss on my wife just
another day in a first responders life
flashing lights fill the air, broken bodies everywhere
another bad dream is stealing my sleep

On Suffering

We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. — Winston Churchill

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. — Helen Keller

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. — Nelson Mandela

Let our scars fall in love. — Galway Kinnell

I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. — Anne Frank

Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for. — Bob Marley

While being a victim is not an end in itself, neither is being a victim a mark of disgrace. When one turns victimhood into disgrace … one employs a dangerous logic that correlates honor and strength, victimhood and shame. Regardless of its intention, this logic emboldens the strong by moralizing their victory, while victim-shaming precisely those who have been cast down by the powerful. — J Leavitt Pearl

When we are suffering, we invite another energy from the depths of our consciousness to come up: the energy of mindfulness. Mindfulness has the capacity to embrace our suffering. It says, Hello, my dear pain. This is the practice of recognizing suffering. Hello, my pain. I know you are there, and I will take care of you. You don’t need to be afraid. Now in our mind-consciousness there are two energies: the energy of mindfulness and the energy of suffering. The work of mindfulness is first to recognize and then to embrace the suffering with gentleness and compassion. You make use of your mindful breathing to do this. As you breathe in, you say silently, Hello, my pain. As you breathe out, you say, I am here for you. Our breathing contains within it the energy of our pain, so as we breathe with gentleness and compassion, we are also embracing our pain with gentleness and compassion. — Thich Nhat Hahn

How many of us believe parts of our lives are dead? How many believe that parts of our country, our world, our church cannot come to life? How many of us feel bereft of the hope of change? … We are not called to live in that room. We are called to emerge from our hiding places … surprised, delighted and moved to joy. — James Martin

On Service as a Form of Sacrifice

What gives you the greatest joy in life? What creates for you the deepest sense of purpose? When you do you feel most alive, most true to the person you believe God created you to be? My guess is that it wasn’t something you bought, or even earned, but rather was rooted in relationship, in acts of service, and even in acts of what the world calls “sacrifice” when you are caring for another. — David Lose

Carrying the cross is not about casting about for a heavy burden to pick up; neither does it require us to seek out situations of pain and danger that will cause damage to the person God calls us to be. It’s about seeking the pattern of life that will open us the most fully to the God who created us in our particularity … The things I need to let go of, to choose against, to turn away from in order to make a space … at the center of my life may well be different than what you need to let go of. And what I need to allow in, to reshape me, to pierce me … will be particular to my own life as well. — Jan Richardson

What will happen to this man if I don’t stop to help him? … Taking up the cross is the voluntary or deliberate choice of putting ourselves without reservation … putting our whole being in the struggle against evil, whatever the cost. — Martin Luther King Jr.

When we begin to take the lowest place, to wash the feet of others, to love our brothers with that burning love, that passion … then we can truly say, ‘Now I have begun.’ – Dorothy Day, Loaves and Fishes

And there are things to do. Despite all the brokenness of this wide world, we’re also close and connected. Just as images travel, so can money and gifts. Through our actions, the hungry can be fed and the stranger welcomed. There is hope in that. — Kate Munnick

First Responders
Heroes, yes. But flawed ones. Imperfect ones. Like all of us, faithful in some ways and on some days and not in others or on other days, to be sure. — Barbara Born

And we responded with the best of America, with the daring of our rescueworkers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could. — George Bush

Firefighters, police, and paramedics play a critical role in protecting people and property during fires, medical emergencies, terrorist acts, and natural disasters … the risks that emergency responders face—physical injury, traumatic stress, and hazardous exposures … — Rand

A person (such as a police officer or an EMT) who is among those responsible for going immediately to the scene of an accident or emergency to provide assistance. — Merriam Webster

We will always remember everyone we lost on 9/11, thank the first responders who keep us safe, and honor all who defend our country and the ideals that bind us together. There’s nothing our resilience and resolve can’t overcome … — Barack Obama

Everyone deserves thanks for the work they do. First responders, including police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, whose job it is to maintain order and protect our health and safety, put their lives on the line every day. — Maddie Akeley

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