The Bodyguard at My Door
When my mother received a death threat, I got an unusual wakeup call.
When I was a sophomore in high school, my mom received a death threat from someone who was angry about one of her decisions as a NY State Supreme Court Judge. The police decided to station a personal security guard at our house until the threat passed.
The guard would stand by our front door, waiting to escort my mother to her car. But first he would watch me get onto the bus each morning, scanning the surroundings for any danger. He would walk down the driveway in full uniform with two guns in his holster, and nod to me that the coast was clear.
I was completely mortified. Was this guy joking? Couldn't he make himself a little less obvious in front of all of my friends? Was any of this really necessary? I would run onto the bus and slump down as far as I could into my seat.
"That's so cool! What is that guard doing at your house?" my friend asked me on the first morning.
"What guy?" I cringed and glanced sideways towards my house, hoping that the paranoid bodyguard had faded back behind the trees. But no, he was still standing there, looking up and down the street as if he expected some psycho to come barreling down towards the school bus.
"Um, the guy with the gun there who's talking into his walkie-talkie right now in your driveway..."
"Oh, that guy. I don't know what he's doing, something to do with my mom's job," I mumbled. I changed the conversation so quickly that no one brought it up again for the next few weeks as I endured the endless trek from my front door to the bus under the paranoid gaze of Mr. Crazy Bodyguard. Did he have to follow me all the way to the bus every morning?
Looking back at it now, I'm embarrassed by how rude I was to this officer who was risking his life to do his job, who was getting up before dawn to watch some stranger's disgruntled teenager get on her school bus safely. I don't even remember ever saying good morning to him. All I wanted him to do was disappear.
What I should have said was thank you.
What I didn't realize then was that there is always Someone watching me, standing guard by the door, scanning my life for dangers. And this Guardian never sleeps and never leaves. And if we stop and listen, we can hear Him whispering to us, “I'm trying to help you, to reach you. Can you hear me now?”
As Rosh Hashanah approaches, I look back at the past year and wonder how many days I lived in the same careless, ungrateful way that I did as a teenager trying to run onto the bus without saying thank you. How many times I forgot to turn around at the end of the day and say thank You for protecting my family. How often I was too distracted to even say good morning. Instead of appreciating the blessings in my life, I just expected my good health, my job, and my home to be there and wondered why the One who gives it all to me couldn't just get off the driveway, away from the front door, so I could pretend that I was in charge. So that I could feel like I created and sustained my own life without any help.
But when I stopped and listened very closely to the murmurings of my soul, I knew that I didn't want to live that way.
What I really want is to be aware that there is a Guardian, a loving Father, a King at my front door. And I want to be able to hear the shofar's call. To silence the static of the walkie talkies in my life and hear the whispers of Someone who loves me so much that He scans the streets of my life even when I don't know where I'm going. He clears paths. He redirects. He creates while we sleep.
On Rosh Hashanah, He gives us a chance to wake up. He sounds an alarm for all of us. It starts off so softly, almost like it's a part of our dreams. But then it gets louder and louder like a crying child, like a life awakening, like a world trembling before the King. We can hit snooze or lower the volume. Or we can hear the Guardian of Israel who never sleeps whispering to us, “Can you hear me now? I'm right here by your side, as I've been every day.”
We can hear the cry of the shofar, wake up and say thank You. Thank You for creating us, for sustaining us and for bringing us to this moment in time.