Patterico's Pontifications

12/24/2009

A Cop’s Christmas (Reprise)

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 9:44 pm



[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

Once again, and with apologies to those who may have read this before, on this Christmas Eve I bring you a piece I wrote for National Review Online back in 2001. I don’t think I could write another one that could better capture both the joys and the sorrows that come with working as a police officer over the holidays.

Best wishes at Christmas and in the new year to our host Pat, to my fellow guest bloggers DRJ and Karl, and most of all to the readers.

A Cop’s Christmas

For reviving the spirit, there is little in life that can rival standing among a thousand people singing “Adeste Fidelis” in church on Christmas morning. And while I don’t presume to know the minds of my fellow worshipers, I feel safe in saying there was no one in church that morning whose spirit was more in need of reviving than my own, for few professions can rival mine for glimpses into the darkness that sometimes dwells in the souls of men. In the days and indeed the very hours leading up to Christmas, I waded through the anguished aftermaths of two murders, two suicides, an attempted suicide, and a variety of other lesser tragedies, the accumulated sadness of which left me reeling and in doubt as to the wisdom in my choice of careers.

To get one’s intellectual arms around the meaning of that song and the event it commemorates is a challenge even under the best of circumstances, but as I dressed for church Christmas morning I couldn’t rid my mind’s eye of those haunting images: the faces of people who, only moments before I came upon them, were calmly going about their lives unaware of the horror about to befall them, or, as with the suicides, were all too aware of it. I was tempted to go back to bed. Christmas, it seemed to me in that moment, was for the birds.

There have been many such moments in my years as a policeman, but even in the bleakest of them I’ve tried to remember that it has been the blessed combination of faith, family, and friends that has sustained me. So, albeit reluctantly, off to church I went.

I was distracted when I first arrived, looking around at all those people who hadn’t been in church since last Easter and would not be again until the next. Even as the church was filling to capacity and beyond I felt an urge to get up and go home. Then the choir began to sing “Adeste Fidelis,” and then the congregation joined in, and finally even I, falteringly at first, began to sing in praise of that Baby born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.

The Gospel that day was from Luke – my favorite description of the Nativity, with all its angels and shepherds and heavenly hosts. By the time the Mass ended and we had sung “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” and a few others, the woes of the previous days had receded into a more proper perspective, one that allowed me to return to work and face the certainty that those awful images will never completely fade from memory, and that new ones just as awful surely will join them before I take off my gun and badge for the last time.

I know too many good and decent people of other faiths – or of no faith at all – to be absolutely certain that we Christians have the final word on God and salvation and the meaning of life. And I know that every civilization throughout history has had its creation myth. But I was raised to believe – and still do believe – that God sent us His only Son to be born as Man in a humble birth, to walk among us, to teach us, and finally to endure injustice, cruelty, and death before rising again, all to show that we, too, with His help, can endure injustice, cruelty, and even death.

If that’s a myth, it’s a pretty good one. I’m sticking with it.

–Jack Dunphy

16 Responses to “A Cop’s Christmas (Reprise)”

  1. God bless you, Jack Dunphy.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  2. I have the best set of guest bloggers anywhere. Thanks as always, Jack. And Merry Christmas.

    Patterico (4ef72a)

  3. It remains a great and powerful read, Jack.

    Merry Christmas to you and your’s, and to everyone here at Patterico’s Pontifications.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  4. […] here to read the rest: A Cop’s Christmas (Reprise) Share this […]

    A Cop’s Christmas (Reprise) | Liberal Whoppers (d16888)

  5. Brother, you ARE quite the writer! Merry Christmas JD!

    Jim Lewis (365f1f)

  6. Thanks for a great and very moving story Jack Dunphy. Merry Christmas.

    BT (74cbec)

  7. I hadn’t seen that before, thanks for posting and God Bless you and thank you for your service.

    When I was fresh out of law school and working for the State’s Attorney’s Office we had a job called “Felony Review.” We always had at least one Assistant State’s Attorney on call 24 hours a day for all 42 Police Departments in our County to help assist with charging any Felony offenses. I’ll never forget the year I was – get this ancient fact – on a “Pager” to be paged by the Police when they had a Felony Charge they wanted to bring for both Thanksgiving and Christmas the same year. People do really wierd stuff over the Holidays. Put together family members with deep seated burning fuses of resentment, throw in a large amount of Alcohol and/or drugs and presto: Instant Domestic Violence erupts.

    I was never more busy on “Felony Review” than I was that Thanksgiving and Christmas so I got to see some of the darker sides of people’s nature juxtaposed against the wonderful Holidy Cheer. Looking back I truly feel blessed and I am very grateful to our all-powerful and all loving and forgiving God for Blessing us with all that we have.

    Merry Christmas Everyone! May God Bless you and yours, and grant you a glorious 2010!

    J. Raymond Wright (e8d0ca)

  8. the blessed combination of faith, family, and friends that has sustained me …

    In this modern world, that is unraveling at the seams. Harsh is the new reality. Far too many are completely disassociated from anything communal, spiritual. Lost in the microcosm of empty, petty self interest. The spirit of America is dying.

    … and finally to endure injustice, cruelty, and death before rising again, all to show that we, too, with His help, can endure injustice, cruelty, and even death.

    I try to do the right thing. Be a just person, of integrity. Keep my side of the street tidy. But I fear it be a losing battle. And this world be lost. And even on this day, (and) with much truly to be grateful for. Find little joy.

    Mebbe need to snag one of those last minute/bucket brigade bookings, for a cheapie ocean going cruise? (That I can’t really afford). Sure, got my eyes on moving up from the gigantic 19″ lcd/hdtv, proudly purchased last year. And arriving home with a new ginormous 26″!

    Then … I can be anesthetized in front of a glowing panel, watching recyled sh*te from Hollywood. Like the rest of this dying nation.

    Foog me … Merry Christmas.

    Elmo (dab3e9)

  9. Thank you

    SteveG (11baba)

  10. Good essay. I could probably wax poetic abut a surgeon’s Christmas but, relax, I won’t. Christmas was always GI bleeder season, possibly too much cheer or maybe too much stress. For years, my partner and I split the Christmas and New Year holidays and, in the years when SC was going to the Rose Bowl a lot, I spent a lot of Christmas Eves and Days, in the OR. Most of them, at least after I moved to Orange County, were fairly low key, not many GSW or stab wounds. Some of the people I met that way were kind of fun. Like one old guy with an Irish name (O’Toole, or something like that.) whose common bile duct stone acted up at the wrong time. The poor old guy was almost deaf when his wife and daughter were around. A couple of days postop, I walked in and forgot about his deafness. I was talking to him in a normal tone when I realized he heard me just fine. He just couldn’t hear his wife and daughter, as they loudly and frequently reminded me.

    Merry Christmas.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  11. Just lovely, Jack Dunphy. As always, you and those fellow officers who serve to protect are held in the highest of regard. Thank you.

    “Advent has drawn to a close; the season of the Incarnate Word is here. Let us draw near to Him, then. Let us slouch toward Bethlehem, carrying the poor gifts of our selves. Let us bow down in worship, and place before him the thing of which we are most protective, because it is so very fragile: the trust of our own tender hearts.”

    Dana (f64b7d)

  12. I know too many good and decent people of other faiths – or of no faith at all – to be absolutely certain that we Christians have the final word on God and salvation and the meaning of life. And I know that every civilization throughout history has had its creation myth. But I was raised to believe – and still do believe – that God sent us His only Son to be born as Man in a humble birth, to walk among us, to teach us, and finally to endure injustice, cruelty, and death before rising again, all to show that we, too, with His help, can endure injustice, cruelty, and even death.

    If that’s a myth, it’s a pretty good one. I’m sticking with it.

    When my kids have questions about the hows our faith, this is how I try to answer them. Be safe, and God bless you Mr. Dunphy.

    And, Merry Christmas to all.

    Matador (176445)

  13. Well Said Jack. On a personal level, it’s great to be retired and at home with my family. Not out at some homicide scene where I spent many a Christmas. So many I have lost track. Rest assured that is what many cops are doing at this very moment. So much for peace on Earth & good will toward men.

    Stan Switek (eb6164)

  14. Call it what you will ie: a myth BUT that myth keeps the MAJORITY of us from succumbing to insanity in this SICK world of LEFTISM :)

    I look forward to the New Year with REAL hope and optimism that the D’s in Congress have sang their LAST SONG on turning FREE America into a SOCIALIST country :)

    Merry Christmas Dan and too all of your guest bloggers as well!

    Jaded (018064)

  15. […] See also, A Cop’s Christmas by Jack Dunphy at Patterico’s. For reviving the spirit, there is little in life that can rival standing […]

    Thank you to the boys in Blue (and the others on the 111 line) « Something should go here, maybe later. (b093c9)


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