(I wrote this Tuesday morning, following the deadly tornado)
I awake this morning, earlier than usual, to the heavy, still air hanging between storms. The leaves on the dogwood stand at attention and the flowers on the patio are frozen in bloom. Even the water in the kettle seems to be heating carefully, almost tip-toeing its way to boiling. And it is all too calm, eerie with silence, like even the morning sun is shocked by the tornado that tore through Oklahoma.
I skim through scriptures but cannot lock into the words because my mind is sealed with those who awake to chaos, to uncertainty and to panic. I sip tea on the couch, and just across the country, there are mothers who are taking their very first step into a living nightmare. There are mothers and fathers who are just beginning to survey all that is lost this morning. I keep my fingers on the thin pages of my old Bible, but I swear, deep down, I wonder if its words are just as fragile as the pages, if it really can hold the weight of this.
Because what do we do when we believe that God could have stopped that storm, and He didn’t? Where do we go when we know that in a touch, or a mere whisper, that deadly tornado could have been leveled low beneath His feet? And yet, today, in Oklahoma, it seems that the only thing lying at His feet are piles and piles of trash.
Though my home stands strong this morning, and the blue hydrangea in the yard is even fuller than yesterday, the winds of that tornado whipped me, as well. That storm grabbed me right up with it. And it spit me out onto familiar land, a place of questioning and wrestling. A place where the wind howls, “why” and the sun beams, “how could it be?”
God could have done something. He could have touched that storm and stopped it from killing. He could have touched my son’s heart and kept it beating. He could have. He could have. Damn it. He could have done something.
I hear the sweet story about the woman who found her dog under a pile of rubble. I thank God for it. And it is good to hear good news. But I also know that this story isn’t worth a hill of beans to the mother who took her daughter to school for the last time yesterday. No story of rescue or reunification will matter much to her at all. For her baby is gone, and she can’t do one blessed thing about it. But, God? Now, He could have done something.
Am I alone in this? Am I the only one tired of searching through piles of rubble, scavenging through shattered scraps, searching for gold beneath it all? In the shootings, in the bombings, in the hungry orphans, and now in this deadly storm … God could do something. He could have done something.
I have no answers. I will not even attempt to make sense of it. No, it is never my job to explain away the hurt. The truth is, I couldn’t if I tried. But I can stand in the middle of the scraps, and I can cover my own face with the ashes. I can bloody my knuckles by tearing through the mess that lays in the wake; digging, hunting, searching for something beneath all of it, searching for Someone who lives among it. God do something.
And maybe, just maybe, one day, I will see metal clang against metal and trash quiver from rising glory. Maybe one day, I will feel the dust of the rubble stirring and sense the ground breaking to the trumpets blowing as a new storm brews. Maybe I will hear a holy chorus of hallelujahs drown out the wailing and the cursing of we believers who won’t stop searching after tragedy hits. And maybe, just maybe I will see that, in fact, God is doing something. That actually, all along, God has been doing something.
My tea is cold now and the children are calling me from their beds. Today I will drive the minivan to preschool and pick up bread from the grocery. I will meet Dad for lunch and fold laundry during nap. The day will be cloaked in ordinary.
But hands grow stronger in the practice of searching through rubble in the ordinary. And this searching, this pulling back layer upon layer of dead debris in hopes of finding something alive, it is the work of faith. It is in the plowing through what we see as waste, in search for the Worthy, that our hands begin to look more and more like the calloused hands of a Jewish Carpenter.
God do something.
I hear His voice rising from the ash.
Settle, do something. Keep digging. You may just find that though it seems I have been buried, that I am alive. It seems that I have been buried beneath the storms and the shootings, buried below the sicknesses and the injustices, hidden by the bombings and the extreme poverty. But alive, I am. Keep searching. For there is no tomb from which I cannot and will not rise.
I hear it now, metal clanging metal. I feel it, dust stirring from the rubble. And beneath the shrill of the ambulance siren, I can hear the low moan of the trumpet sounding.