The Buck Stops Here

How did we get here? How do other people have their own lives and thoughts? Is there life similar to ours somewhere in the greater cosmos? These questions came from the mind of my nine year old son. He is developing awareness for people other than himself. I remember the first time I felt this surreal consciousness with regard to the universe. I felt small and insignificant yet larger than life. It was interesting to my young mind. It is interesting to my 29 year old mind. But, how to answer a child not much older than a babe when I haven’t unearthed any answers for me? I floundered for a second too long, then mumbled some stuff about God, shared my own enthusiasm for realizing a minute portion of this wonderful universe, and began mulling it over once again. Particularly interesting to me is the subject of God, but not in the sense that most would assume. As soon as I think of it, it is stuck in my brain like an annoying song I heard on the radio. The pervasive, nagging little thought invades my brain waves and sticks to everything like goo. I am honestly not sure what to make of it.

Earth holds billions of people. Some fitfully rest in the muddy filth of dilapidated shacks in hideously humid conditions. Some step out of their climate-controlled luxury town car to walk a few feet to an elevator that will take them to the 24th floor of a building that will crumble to ashes during wartime. Some sit in their little house drinking coffee while writing a blog post that nobody will ever read. Some were born in a stylish suit with the name Bernie and touch hundreds of thousands of lives with mere words. Each society, each culture, each people have a different take on God. Each person views God differently. We have creative minds and conjure up the most interesting images and scenarios of times past. But is there really a god who created all living things from just a thought—a word spoken into the blinding blackness of nothing?

As a child, I experienced some truly heinous thoughts turned to action at the hands of others. I witnessed moments between adults that were terrifying to my innocence. Surely, God was not part of that. Though, I did have a vague understanding that God was some humongous sentient, all-powerful, omniscient being and he was to be revered and feared simultaneously. One step out of place and BOOM feel the wrath of Mr. God. So why was it that only my brother and I had immediate consequences for stepping out of line but one adult could smash another’s head through a wall and nothing happened? Where were the lightning bolts in that moment—the one where the bluish-purple bruising spread like spider webbing underneath a tear-filled eye? I didn’t realize there was supposed to be love involved in this equation.

Not until one strange day with a cassette tape of worship music that sounded an awful lot like the groups Boston and REO Speedwagon. “The buck stops here!” I will remember those words forever, even if I get Alzheimer’s and remember nothing else. He sat down on our dumpy old brown couch with tears in his eyes and practically shouted those words. I can see the picture in my mind. It’s fuzzy, like the black and white fuzz on the screen of an old television when the picture didn’t come in and you had to go out and adjust the UFO sized satellite until Mom yelled “GOOD!” I can’t remember all of what was said. I can’t remember what my mom looked like as she heard those words. I often wonder what it meant to her, though I’ll never ask. I was ecstatic. You can’t imagine. Over the moon, I was, with the promise of better, happier, more loving days. Hope settled in for the briefest of days. “The buck stops here!” Yeah, right.

Who knows how we got here? Who knows whether God is real or not? Who cares really, when the promise or threat of God was used to control the mind of an innocent, lovely, curly haired little child? But, I can’t talk about these things with my not-much-older-than-a-babe son. It wouldn’t ever make sense to him. So, I flounder inside my head for a second too long and mull it over once more.


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