I had a peculiar occasion a while back in which I was left wondering if I hadn’t got a glimpse of a fleeting deity, in the way that is similar to what James says is characteristic of the depictions of YHWH in the Bible generally … in a similar way to how James says Luke framed the resurrection appearance of Christ in its concluding chapter. I suppose mystical encounters are, by definition, impossible to put into words. So if this occasion were to have actually been what I’ll suggest it was, then there is good reason not to try and write it down. So, what follows may come out lame for at least a couple different reasons, but I’m merely following the prompt to “share ways in which you have noticed the content, questions or insights from the previous Module showing up in your lives.

I was watching a network news story on the Parkland shooting when they showed a clip of the shooter’s arraignment which had happened earlier that day. The narrator of the reportage explained that he spoke no words in court, other than a “Yes ma’am” to the judge when she asked him if he was Nikolas Cruz. The television screen showed a figure with slumped shoulders surrounded by uniformed officers and a well dressed lawyer. His seemingly meek demeanor was probably accentuated by a camera angle that looked down on him from the ceiling or some balcony. The text of the news report had prepared me to see a monstrous villain; what I saw in the brief shot of an orange-suited prisoner was far more startling.

Please know that, in that peculiar moment, I was NOT moved to give ear to any excuse for the life taking violence perpetrated by the young gunman. I was NOT at all moved to pity a tortured soul who lamentably chose a horrendous means by which to vent his anguish. Rather, I was moved by the grand show the crowd (officials, camera crews, and television audiences) was making out of one solitary soul.

For a moment, I couldn’t see a court hearing. I couldn’t see any investigation in to what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; it was like everyone already knows what happened. I saw a courtroom that was concerned only with formal procedure and the reiteration of validation already agreed upon.

I didn’t see a monster. I didn’t see a gunman. I didn’t see a poor lost bullied soul (i.e. victim-turned-victimizer). I don’t even think it was Nikolas Cruz I saw. The one I saw was one who, though technically living, was only still breathing so that those around him could move to execute him. Then, in a flash, he was gone. You know how video montages with newscaster voice overs don’t stay on the same picture for very long.