Meeting the Gods

We’d been hiking for hours, the wind sandblasting our faces and whipping up dust devils as tall as the rock canyon walls. I wasn’t sure why we had come, or what we were there to see. And when we arrived, I still didn’t know. But I couldn’t doubt that what we had found were gods.  

What is a god? In a priesthood meeting, the teacher had gone on a tear about the Trinity. It made no sense, he argued, for a being to be three in one or one in three. To consider such an idea simply confused the mind. On a whim, I considered it, probing the possibility. The beams girding my Mormon mind creaked from this unexpected movement, some mental plumbing shuddered, and then a still, small door opened.

As I stood watching the canyon wall, the wind and the hike forgotten, that door in my mind blew open again, this time ripped right from its hinges. The Trinity was child’s play. Here was an entire gallery of gods.

But what are these gods? Some seem shadows, others more architecture than organism. Do they have faces? Eyes? Hands? They tower. They sway. Snakes crawl in their lungs. Animals fight in their hearts. Ghosts slip through their eyes.

Is this what the gods are like?

We don’t meet gods. We don’t see or touch them. We brush up against something that may have once felt a god’s breath in a dream—like thousand-year-old paintings on the wall of a rock canyon, or the story of a 14-year-old boy. And then we tell stories about that possible breath, praying that our words will break apart, that fault lines will shift, that doors will fly open.

That we, too, will begin to dream.

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10 Responses to Meeting the Gods

  1. Mark Penny says:

    You had me thinking of Prometheus (the movie) for a second there.

    I like the phrase “still, small door”. Actually, I like that whole sentence. Nice image. Nice idea.

    Mind if I base a poem on this post? I’ve got a thing for cave paintings and moments of epiphany. There’s probably a good sci-fi story in here as well. Can I have that, too?

  2. Stephen Carter says:

    Hmm. Haven’t seen Prometheus yet.

    Go crazy, Mark. As T. S. Eliot said, “when a man of genius steals, he always makes the thefts his own.”

    • Rick Parker says:

      Eliot would agree with the words “When a man of genius steals, he always makes the thefts his own” but they were actually written by George Saintsbury.

  3. Lisa Torcasso Downing says:

    So this is the beginning of another great Stephen Carter essay, right? Not that it doesn’t feel complete. But I want more, bud. This is beautiful.

  4. Mark Penny says:

    Poem’s nearly done. Just tweaking the vocabulary a bit. I’ll email a copy to you as a gift. It it appropriate to say that here?

  5. Jonathan Langford says:

    (a) Very nice post. I second Lisa — I’d like to see more.

    (b) If Mark and Stephen both feel comfortable with it, I’d welcome seeing a link to that poem here…

  6. Robert Ksyniuk says:

    I love how you made the pictographs standout from the rock. My wife and I study rockart in Northern British Columbia and would love to try this on the paintings we have recorded. Can you tell me how you did this? It would great for her research.

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