Step Lightly, God


From the time before there was time, You breathed.

You walked.

You moved.

You created.

And now you breathe, you walk, you move, you create. I can’t possibly begin to define all of you since you were the first to define me. How can the created ever hope to fully realize the Creator? It’s a measure filled with hubris, and yet I try desperately to interpret your movements, your next steps.

As with any violent horror, we are all stunned into paralysis when the next trigger is squeezed or the next verdict is rendered. In trying to reconcile what was done with why it was done, vainly we seek you. In our pain, we ascribe meaning where there truly might be no meaning, even if there are reasons. We can’t possibly believe that anything so terrible would happen if you were truly present and honoured.

Ah God, do we even know the extent of the chasm we dig between the hurting and yourself by even daring to suggest a flimsy school door has kept you out? I wonder. There must be something profound about expressing pain and grief using the facade of our abandonment of you, because I cannot understand myself why we would swallow such fearful and devilish theology.

Step lightly, God, please? Step gently.

Not only is the blood on the ground still fresh, the shots still echoing, and death still rank in the air, but the dismal sadness that we must believe in our faithlessness in order to explain your absence is still too strong of a narcotic for many. We would go into acute withdrawal if we were confronted with the truth:

No school door, no courthouse chamber, no government sign, no clinic curtain, no gas chamber, and no church document has even — or could ever — keep you out.

This is, by far, the more dangerous truth. For if indeed you are present everywhere in all times and in all places, then…why? Why Parkland, FL? Why Pulse? Why Biggar, SK? Why Winnipeg, MB? Why Quebec City, QB? Why Edmonton, AB? Why students? Why LGBTQ+ people? Why Colten Boushie and Tina Fontaine? Why mosques & our Muslim neighbours?

Sitting with your presence during the most painful, unjust moments of our lives is like rock salt on a festering wound. We believe you could have stopped all of this; we believe you could have changed hearts and minds; we believe you could have done something, anything, to stop evil in its determined tracks. And yet we are left to mop of the blood time and again.

Instead, we turn to a ruthless version of you claiming our children were killed because we turned you out of our classrooms. We prefer not to dig into deeper realities of our own as to why these acts of violence continue to erupt time and again, and we prefer to place blame on generations we judge as unbelieving.

But believe we do.

Oh certainly, we do.

Step lightly, God, please? Step gently.

Instead of listening to children raising their voices in response to you, we judge that increased violence in the name of security is required. We dare tell the world where you are and where you are not. We assure victims that they suffered because others chose to abandon you.

I will never understand why we prefer such lies over sitting with the horror that others have been forced to accept long ago: you are present and evil still happens. My smallness and privilege together create a weak line of vision, despite trying to cast my sight into the world to see what I’m able to see. You are too big, you are too mysterious, and you are too wholly Other.

Yet you are here.

You were here before here was here.

No school door will ever change that.

Step lightly, God, please?

As we come to grips with the reality of what we’ve done to one another, your presence — a Love and a Meaning above all else — will be a balm to some and an acid to others. For some, you will be both. When we insist on violence, you become impossible to live with. We cannot tolerate your love. We are that consumed with our own weak god. You must be one of wrath and judgment guised as love, or you are not at all.

What a horror it must be to wake up one day and see you. Feel you. Hear you. Smell you. Realize you. Not only do we come to understand that you are here always, but that you are here in pain, suffering, and grief. We come to understand that blaming those we believe unrighteous was a flimsy excuse for not dwelling in our own realities.

Which realities?

You were with the fallen in Parkland. You are with the survivors.

You were with Colten Boushie and his friends. You are with Gerard Stanley and his family.

You were with Tina Fontaine and Cindy Gladue. You are with their families.

You are Presence. How can You be else?

There is no space where you are un-present. That would defy your nature as well as ensure that victims pay for their own violence and grief. Children have enough millstones around their necks from our world. They do not need to be told that you abandoned them because someone supposedly said:

No more prayers in schools.”

Such lies are too high for me; too lofty for me to attain.

You are present for the righteous. But for those we label unrighteous?

Your children will die.

Step lightly, God, please? Step gently.

In a world of wrath, we need gentleness of a divine sort. It needs to be that balm and that acid together. Your presence will break us. You are that heavy, that real, that tangible…everywhere.

You are more than what we can handle, and less than what we have allowed.

Step lightly, God.

We need lightness.

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