The Chaplain's Notebook


The Old Testament/Torah tells us of a remarkable event in Moses’ life that exemplifies unity, teamwork and support. When Moses was leading the people of Israel into battle after being freed from slavery in Egypt, something amazing happened. God instructed him to stand on top of a hill with his staff in hand, overlooking the battlefield. God told Moses to raise the staff above his head as if he was holding a banner. When his arms were raised, the Israelites would advance in battle. However, when he lowered his arms from exhaustion, the Israelites would lose ground. Moses’ brother Aaron, observing what was happening, grabbed his friend Hur and hurried to assist. They rolled a large stone over to Moses and had him sit upon it. Then, the two posted themselves where they could best support their leader, Aaron on one side of Moses and Hur on the other. From there, they were able to hold Moses’ hands steady above his head until the end of the day, assuring victory against their enemy, the Amalekites. I love the imagery of Aaron and Hur holding Moses’ arms up and giving him the support that he needed so that he and his people would be victorious.

The image of Moses’ arms getting tired makes me think of the psychological burdens that weigh down our LASD personnel — such as long hours, exposure to critical incidents, negative societal attention, criticism and, most recently, possible loss of employment due to vaccination mandates. Each of these adds weight to the already strenuous burdens that we each carry. I liked the way 30-year LEO veteran Daniel Mattos described these burdens: “By the very nature of what we do as police officers, we are unavoidably exposed to a host of toxic elements that can be likened to grains of emotional sand that ever so gradually are placed on our psychological backs. As time goes on, the sand increases in volume. Without the proper tools to remove it, the weight can become unbearable. In fact, in some cases, the sand becomes so heavy that it can collapse officers.”

In the same way that Moses needed the support of his brother and friend, we all — at one time or another — need someone to help us stand strong. When we struggle to muster the needed strength on our own and are on the brink of collapse, do we have the support of those around us? I think of our LASD chaplaincy as modern-day Aarons and Hurs. Every chaplain stands ready to come alongside our deputies and Department personnel when they just can’t go it alone. We desire to provide a safe place to rest, and extra hands to help carry the burden. Of course, our Department chaplains won’t literally hold your arms up, but we each stand ready to act when you need a little extra help with your burdens. It doesn’t even need to be Department-related. Whether it be work stressors, home stressors, societal stressors, grief or a myriad of life’s other difficulties, we are here for you!

My prayer for each of you today: “God, please give our personnel the bravery to do their job well, the valor to protect and serve beyond themselves, and the courage to call upon You and/or your servants when their burdens are too heavy to carry on their own. Amen.”