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Even if we are in harm’s way

Becky and I were walking after dinner.

In downtown Denver.

At night.

In a rough part of town.

We had eaten a terrific barbecue meal at a joint off of Broadway. The food was great. The atmosphere was, not knowing how else to describe the bars across all the windows and the distinct bullet-shaped hole in the door, interesting.

We were strolling back to our hotel on the 16th Street Mall. I was holding the Styrofoam containers with the leftovers and a soda. Becky had her purse.

As is usual, I was talking, soliloquizing on my philosophy about life, and Becky, as usual, was being a good listener. There is a small corner of my mind that I use for paying attention to my environment — whether there is a car coming, that sort of thing — and it did pick up that, farther down the block, in the shadows, two figures were running and there was some sort of shouting going on.

The small corner dismissed the incident as a couple of teenagers goofing around (I am from Pagosa).

I finally began to notice it might be time to pay attention when Becky moved behind me. She had been walking on my right, listening with rapt attention I am sure, and suddenly she was making this definite move.

I discovered later that Becky, though hanging on my words, actually was paying attention to the environment. It wasn’t a couple of teenagers goofing off. It was a young lady snatching a backpack from a middle-aged lady, who was shouting, “Stop her, she has my purse!”

Furthermore, Becky was not just drifting around behind me. She was reading the play, moving out like a linebacker to intercept the runner! Before I knew it, Becky had run to our left about 30 feet, on a collision-course with the miscreant, yelling, “Hey!”

My lightning reflexes were finally kicking in, and I was feebly trotting after them saying, “Hey … you … stop…”, but in my mind I was thinking, “Astonishing woman.”

The upshot of the adventure was the young person threw down the backpack, yelled, “Sorry,” ran across Broadway, and the older woman caught up and retrieved her belongings. There were hugs, tears, and thank you’s and that was that, except for the delayed adrenaline rush.

In harm’s way. That is the phrase that occurred to me later.

John Paul Jones of revolutionary war fame said, “I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

If we let my story be a parable, there are two kinds of Christians. There are those who are busy with their own agenda, not really paying attention to the world swirling around them. They are too busy with their philosophizing and the sound of their own voice to realize there are people who need help. The other person, of course, is the one attuned to the conversation, but doesn’t let it keep them from meeting another at the point of their need, even if it puts them in harm’s way.

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