Who started looking up anyhow? If gods are to be found, wouldn’t they be closer in? Sustenance makes leveled sense. Survival is intimate with what the winds bring in or what they keep away. And who moves these winds? Who strings up the clouds and thickens their skins to hold in the sun’s greed? Is the sky’s vastness reason for our inferiority? Is it reason to poke it with questions about our measured dirt? Given the beasts that hunt and hike our concrete spaces, the sky seems a more predictable giant.
And maybe that’s why. The gods up there, somewhere, must be avoiding the messy entanglements that gravity brings. Throw down seasons and let the trees and gales conspire together to empty themselves on the heads and dwellings of the two-legged mini-gods.
“They walk here and there with an air of confidence,” said the wind as she circled her husky friend.
“As if their roads anchor them to some definition of place,” answered the aged tree. “No doubts, their land is magical. It raises high my arms and its contours and curves gives you back those old songs.”
“But those two-leggers carry disease and redemption. I am muzzled and you turn barren each year because they’re avarice took what it did not own, the mysteries of naivety,” said the wind. “Now they romp and rape each other and the countryside they claim as home for they need to know - want to know - what makes things tick.”
The old tree knew what was coming next. The wind took a needed breath. “And, they are slow to realize that no tick exists except the one deep inside their balmy souls.”
And then the two pushed out. The trees played charades in the light of a full moon and the wind whipped through vinyled houses. Inside the mini-gods watched through cancerous peek holes - between their manicured shrubs - fearing the footsteps of a giant they once knew.
Collisions between the firmament and the prickles of rooted beings frequently occur. Fog, for example, is simply a cloud that a pine tree has amusingly popped for sinking too far below the equinoctial line in another one of its celestial games of covering up the sun.
And it works the other way too. With spears rocketed at the moon, we invade the earth’s upper skin and create a new word: moonmen. Why? Because the origins are original somewhere, and with ingenuity we can find what has never been found before.(?) The search continues.
But people who knew nothing of modernity (and modernity knows nothing of them since it’s defined by the emptying out all the unreasonables gone before it) and the solidity of rationalism, thought it possible to meet the gods. They put it deep within their histories.
Mesopotamia spoke of clay humans turning into flesh by way of a god, killed for that purpose. The blood of the slain god dripped into the humans to bring forth life where there was none. And so a piece of god was sewn into every person. But when life passed into death, the breath extinguished into a threat. Mesopotamia believed that if afterlife’s door did not remain locked and secured, the dead may very well return and eat the living.
Egypt created pageantry in the desert with its afterlife spells and mummified cities. Those great points that aim to hit the sky have wide footprints soaking up the underworld, where Osiris, judge and redeemer, waited to take the grain-soul, planted and cocooned, and bring it into a new harvest.
China tried to harmonize yins and yangs with philosophies and rules. Confucius kept his head far from the clouds and said humanity could fix its problems with moral codes. Even so, death was a mystery that interrupted the tangible. Emperors were secretly buried with every suspected provision for the afterlife, including the entombment of thousands of grave builders (and likely military personnel) while still alive.
India fashioned the god Agni who acted as an intermediary, delivering the sacred fires and aromas of burnt offerings to the halls of the gods. Casted securely, the heavens only opened when the Brahman priests made proper appeals. But slowly, faith developed a new set of wheels. Karma, samsara, moksha. Reincarnate, reincarnate, reincarnate again. Until a person became good enough to fall off the wheel (or becomes tired of standing on their head and finds a new religion), they were stuck in a cycle of sacrifice and re-sacrifice, birth and death, again and again.
Sacrifices link most cultures to the gods. They ask the heavens to name the name of the deity who keeps throwing down fishing lines in hopes to catch these tasty feasts.
The Greeks made insipid every earthly aroma, cutting off the gods’ noses and gifting humanity with logical devotion instead. Years later, even as Rome captures this platonic fire and funnels it through bureaucracy, they don't win. Vesta’s fire was soon baptized out.
Unbeknownst to Tiberius, Rome wedges a certain Jesus into the criminal punishment shoot. Sold out by his friends and countrymen, Jesus identifies himself as a lamb led to the slaughter, the son of god, god himself. As a bludgeoned sacrifice he is the conclusion of all the gestures that tried to elevate humanity into a knowledge of god.
The difference, this time, is that God has struck himself dead for the sake of his creation... to give safe passage to the netherworld. He becomes the pyramids of Egypt and the butchered Chinese grave slaves. He is the reincarnation wheel spun off into settled karma. He is the hemlock that stopped Socrates short of answering his questions. He carries tribal totems on his back and gets nailed into them. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin; without God dying, there is no resurrection. For, what you sow does not come to life until it dies.
Jesus clears the way. He breathes in life where there was none, makes a way where there was none. He pastes immortality around the fickle frame of mere mortals. He completes the quest and brings God down from starry skies, off of lofty mountains, away from priestly pockets, and into the rebel hearts of humanity, just as you are... just as I am.
8 March 2008)