The fog is so thick this morning it condenses on the leaves and falls slowly as rain drops on the roof. The streets and sidewalks are slick and shiny, the oaks and mums and grass are weighted with the moisture. Droplets slowly form along the bottom of the porch rail, drop in a moment of routine suspense and then drop and join the sheen.
This might be as close to living underwater as a land-dweller can get: surrounded with water in a way that is total but also barely noticeable. Rainfall drives a person to seek cover; being submerged requires holding your breath. The moisture of a thick fog does its work slowly, permeating every surface, working its way into every opening.
The past couple of days I’ve spent too much time reading the reports, listening to the interviews and watching the news about the massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Just like the fog outside, it covered over every surface and worked its way into my bones. Last night I was saturated with a familiar mixture of grief, shock, anger, hopelessness and empathy. I tried to pray, but often ended up arguing in my head with the voices that would not only perpetuate but escalate violence as a response. The voices that resolve with a shrug and a sigh that such events are unavoidable. The voices that refuse to apply a consistent logic to the situation because of how the ethnicity and perceived motive of the killer shape their opinions.
Such arguments torment me, keep me from praying and doing the Spirit-led work of grieving and lament. There will be a time for such discussions—and they need to be discussions, not just more violence with words—but not now. It’s too raw, too slick and saturated. We need time to sit in the sun for a bit, to have our aching bones warmed, to get our feet firmly beneath us.
Not that the deep ache will ever go away for those who lost people precious to them, or for those who responded to the scene and were traumatized by the carnage, or for those who received the victims in the hospitals and gave everything to try and save them.
Or really for any of us, when we have the courage to admit the toll violence has taken in our own lives. Maybe the violence has been suppressed or hidden, no headlines or scrolling updates, no interviews or political responses. Most likely that’s it: Most violence is ubiquitous, so commonplace that we don’t even realize it’s happening. It saturates and slicks all surfaces. It’s like living underwater, we’re all underwater, not sure why we struggle to breathe. .
I’m going to try to stay away from the coverage of the event after writing this. Not because I don’t care, but because I care deeply and because I need to let the Spirit speak. I need to recognize the fullness of the disease so I can find the courage to bear witness to the radical cure.