Why do we want a god in heaven?
I asked myself that, sitting with Diana, watching the sun rise over Fairy Lake. We had parked ourselves on the gravel pan, our feet pointing southeast, as the swell of dawn pinked the sky, then glinted over the hump of a nearby mountain, then reared up in all its blazing glory.
Behind and all around us, the trees awakened too, alive to the photosynthetic light, the processes of life quickening in needle, cone, branch and trunk, their slow, competitive accretion toward heaven mutely stirring without a breeze to make them sigh.
Watching in steadfast awe, I had to remind myself I am an avowed spiritual existentialist, who denies the existence of gods, proclaims the only meaning to be found in all of this spreads out from the here-and-now of a yearning mind that questions everything down to the groveling roots of being.
Later Di and I trekked through Avatar Forest, beetling along the well-tamped trail between and beneath more towering trees. Spirit lives in tormented wood, scrabbles about on insect legs, takes flight in the feathered whoosh of a raven’s wing. It perks from the ground up; feeds on itself and the distilled nectar of light.
There are no interstices in its seeking… no room for a god in there, in the cellular urge that encompasses everything we can possibly think we know.
Yet I found myself wanting to give thanks for the brilliant shafts penetrating down to the forest floor where ferns and salal and microbial humans crave energy. Found myself saddened I could not look up and give praise for all of this, as if shared bliss was not enough and I had to invent a being above and beyond it all… a being who could have chosen not to create us.
Botanical beach opened out before us in the afternoon, the sun now arcing over the vast, thrashing Pacific. But we looked mostly down, not up; studied life taking hold in pocked pools and creviced rock, shifting sand, the bleached driftwood bones of its own ancestors.
Do I need a god to make known and knowable to me the troublesome concepts of infinite time and space? Must I have a power above who resolves the complex, confusing and dangerous world we inhabit; a being that provides certainty and who can be influenced and propitiated through prayer? Do I need priests and their promise of salvation?
Or can I simply accept my place amid the barnacles that cling, the crabs that scour, the plants that wheedle into every conceivable space and blossom so fragrantly from every cranny… can I simply accept that I am a convergence of everything I see, touch, hear and taste in this split second here-and-now, and say this is enough? This is more than enough, and that to insist on more is to turn wonder into greed, lust and ego.