Resisting Domestication

Caged animals trouble me even if there are acres of natural habitat within their enclosures. The prowling and howling unsettle my claustrophobic soul. And the barriers give visitors a false sense of security. Some time ago, instead of eating the raw meat offered, a grizzly bear ate its handler. We’ve not yet domesticated grizzlies, but if photos of human hubris in Yellowstone Park are any indication, people think befriending wild animals is easy. Just walk right up and pet the bison. In gratitude, it will lower its massive head and lick your hand.

Over the eons, animals willing to be domesticated have provided humans with companionship, labor, and food. Various theologies claim to have domesticated God for similar reasons, but in truth, there is no such thing as a tame or definable God.

“You’ve got that right,” God bellows, sitting large in the hayfield, posing as a woolly mammoth while celestial beings take selfies with her.

I wave but keep my distance. “You know you’re extinct, right?” I’m joking but I’m also afraid of the answer.

God’s tusks circle back to her ancient head. She roars, and the celestial beings roll away like geodes. Their fall from grace cracks them open revealing the phantastic crystal formations of their inner lives. I long to touch the cold brilliance of the fractured geodes, feed God fresh-cut hay, build a nice barn, and corral them all.

“Are you imagining what kind of fencing you’d need?” God asks.

“Yes,” I admit. “But I don’t really want you contained.”

God looked at me long and hard. I looked at myself long and hard. “Ok. I guess I do want you a little bit contained. Otherwise, you’re terrifying.”

As if to prove my point, Woolly Mammoth bellows again. “You terrify yourselves. I’m the source of comfort.”

I bravely push back. “Well. Maybe. But you’re also the reason we need comfort. The conditions we’re born into…consciousness, love, loss, sacrifice, floods, fires, starvation, war…”

“What makes you think your species isn’t going the way of the woolly mammoth?” God interrupts.

“Um, well. We’re amazingly adaptable. And no one’s hunting us.”  I stop abruptly as I realize we actually hunt each other. And our ability to adapt has limits. God’s silence is not reassuring.

I try a slight change of subject. “Did you know scientists are working on cloning woollies back into existence?”

“You don’t say!” Woolly Mammoth exclaims facetiously as she turns and becomes first light. I see that the truth, such as it is, has shaped itself into shelter. It looks dicey, but I think well, if God lives anywhere, it’s here, so I crawl in. At least it’s not a cage.

State of the Union

edit First pair blue hair

“I love scientists,” God said, sipping herbal tea, relaxed and open. “I just love them. They try so hard to understand, reveal, predict, and invent. Aren’t they something? Such visionaries.”

“Yeah,” I said. We sat for a while. Then I added. “You know, I’m somewhat of a scientist myself.

“Hmmm,” God said. “I don’t often think of you that way, but now that you mention it, I can see a little scientific mindedness in you. More artist, but sure, a little scientist.”

Well.

My eyebrows bent down, but I pushed them back up to the level of civil discourse. “I love scientists, too,” I said. “But doesn’t it bother you that you’re kept out of the equations so often?”

“What?” God said. “Are you nuts? I don’t have to be recognized to be present. In fact, I get a lot of exercise jogging around in equations and hypotheses. They’re great places to work out. Science-types are like moles, digging into creation. They examine air, stars, creatures deep in the sea. I love that burning desire to understand.” God paused, looking like a proud parent, and added, “I never dreamed they’d come up with the idea of splitting an atom! Wow. Just wow.”

I was aghast. “God!” I yelled, “You know what we’ve done with split atoms, right?”

God gave me that “duh” look and said, “Children take things apart, and sometimes, they can’t get them back together. It’s part of the long, long walk.” God’s voice faltered. I could tell I’d hit a sore spot, but I was unrepentant.

“It’s more than that,” I said, my voice deadly serious. “And you know it.”

God sighed. “Okay. True. Divide and conquer is a primitive strategy. Bringing things together is a more advanced skill than taking them apart.”

If I could’ve held it together, I would’ve given God a “duh” look back. But I lost it and slid into my usual slash and burn. I stomped back and forth on our concrete floor until I gave myself shin splints. I growled until my throat hurt. I punched the air. I kick-boxed with God. My heart rate moved past the aerobic range. I shouted, “We are tragically fractured, and we just keep fracturing further. Human trafficking, walls and greed, gutted landscapes, forced pregnancies, prolonged suffering at the end of life. War. Torture. Starvation. Nuclear waste. And you sit there, admiring scientists and spouting off about bringing things together?”

“Yes,” God said in a stubborn voice. She appeared to be unfazed. “Exactly.”

She sat down and took a sip of tea, trying to hide her tears. I hid mine, too. A long moment passed. Then, a cruel storm blew up, and fierce as a mother eagle, God flung her powerful, protective wings around the cosmos. My reach is maddeningly limited, but I tried to do the same.