By Echolocation
Date: 2004 Feb 10
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Momentary Deity

I read a book the other day about the evolution of religion, of myth.  According to the author, man's creation of the gods began when he first recognized those moments when one's soul is touched, when - spontaneously and without conscious effort - one feels a sense of awe, of wonder, a surge of intuitive reverence for something outside oneself.  We all know these moments.  A glorious sunset, the smell of your grandmother's perfume, feeling a bird's tiny fragile heartbeat vibrating against your feel a tightness in your throat, a wordless shout of exaltation seems to burst silently forth from your breast, you think, "This is it - this is what life is all about."  Smiling child, thundering waterfall, lover's touch: any and all things that evoke that quiet, intense yet peaceful joy, that sense of rightness.  And in that moment, the object that inspired that reverence becomes, for that brief space of time, a god.  A momentary deity.

(Later, of course, man attempted to fix that fleeting sensation into permanent form, but behind all the named gods and goddesses, behind all the trappings of organized religion, lies the striving to recapture that transcendent joy that comes upon you unexpectedly, that sudden recognition that grace is in fact immanent in all things, not locked within a single form.)


The other night, coming home from dinner.  You were driving, not looking at me, so I could gaze to my heart's content.  I traced your profile, straight nose, strong jaw, high cheekbones, dark hair curling around your face.  It was late, dark out, and the faint light from the dash gave your skin even more of the copper color it always has.  There was a quiet strength and confidence that seemed to flow from you, and suddenly I was overwhelmed by the desire to worship at your feet, and at the same time to touch the sky; I felt at once a great humility and yet an overwhelming pride that I was there, with you, a pleasure so intensely sweet and yet so sharp as to be pain.

In that split second, everything the author had said about momentary deities became achingly clear.