Large outside flower pots overturned at the north entrances to the church and the words, “There is No God,” spray painted on the west end of the building. It was all discovered Thursday morning as we arrived at the church for work. Flower pots were righted, spray painted words were scrubbed away and now the vandalism of Wednesday evening just a memory and for me a topic for pondering.
Here in the middle of the Lenten Season I think of the black words scrawled across the stone wall on the west end of the building and the ash we shared on a Wednesday evening just a couple of weeks ago. “You are dust and to dust you shall return” were the words spoken [scrawled] across our foreheads as we pondered the somber inner thoughts of our own journey of mortality. “There is no God” the words echoed in my mind as I pondered the written and the writer.
I consider my own journey of faith and my growing, deepening, and evolving understanding of who God is in my own life as well as how and where I understand God at work in the world. I remember my youth and the softbound bible I had as a young man that still bears the highlighting and underlining of passages that express the fear I had of God. The passages that are filled with the violence, wrath, and vengeful God who was keeping track of what I did and what I said that was grounded in my fear of doing the wrong thing. “There is no God?” I thought as I measured the dark words painted on the wall.
I wondered what had fueled the author’s words, had they been rejected by the church, turned away at the door, told by some believer their faith and understanding wasn’t good enough? I wondered what had fueled the author’s words the pain of abuse, hurtful words of hatred and exclusion, or words from family and community and faith who told them God did not love them unless they fit a particular theology or lens… “There is no God?” in that lens of pain and rejection.
Journeying inward this Lenten season and pondering my inner-self, my journey, my place in the community of faith, and the community at large there are truth in those words I thought. Perhaps for the author of those words on our building there is truth as well, even if he or she believes them ultimately for all time. I reflect on my own journey of faith, my own evolution of thought and theology, and most certainly that God of my youth that I feared, as in was afraid of, no longer exists, that God is no more, “There is no God”, like that for me either. Perhaps for the author of those words, should I be able to sit on the bench outside our building and converse, we might discover the same “There is no God” and come to know the God of Love, Compassion, Justice, Kindness, and Grace I have come to know more intimately.
We scrubbed the wall clean, which we needed too as one does not want to encourage vandalism, and at the same time there is that rebel part of me who wants to get the spray can and add an addendum, “Me too, friend, me too.” And then find a place to begin a conversation of where we all might find a connection of the Spirit, love, grace, forgiveness, justice, and kindness. Just a thought as we continue together, deepening our understanding of the Love, and the Divine Presence in whom we exist and from whom we can never be separated.
May it be so.