what if being holy means being near. what if looking someone in the eyes changes them. what if the vibrations of our voice and the smell of our breath waft off us like incense. what if our thoughts alter the course of others’ thoughts like gravity alters galaxies. what if thoughts blossomed from the atom naturally, in deep time, like trees do from seeds. what if the atom holds together by love like humans do? like dogs and orcas and trees do?
when does family stop, is what i want to know. at what point are we separate from the earth, i mean. one generation ago you’ll find my parents. billions ago you’ll find the soil. in between is everything else. everything. worms, even, slithering through the soil like roots, feeding the roots. dead roots feeding new roots. dead bodies feeding new roots, decomposing into green buds, breathing carbon in and oxygen out for babies to inhale. our breath is in the trees; the trees’ breath in us.
i was walking through the cemetery and felt the weight beneath me, sinking down, holding me up. saw my ancestors like a great wave of ash surging, thrusting into the present. and the metaphor mixed. saw my body blooming from my mother, and my mother’s body from her mother, and my father’s body from his mother, blooming, blooming. bodies squirming up like vines, faces unfolding like wrinkled petals, thoughts spreading invisible like oxygen into wind. their thoughts moving between gravestones, whispering in alleys, pondering backyards, whirling, eddying into hurricanes and tsunamis along the coast.
what looks better, a sunset or a picture of a sunset? what tastes better, food or a picture of food? what loves better, your friend or a picture of your friend?
what if computers don’t solve our problems. what if looking at screens becomes so familiar that we think in screens, and we scroll through people like newsfeeds. what if we ask questions like a google search and stop at the top answer. what if we skim our parents’ pasts like an article. what if we value a view—a cornfield sprouting, a mountain glistening, a berry ripening, a meadow coloring, a city dawning, a friend hugging, your face smiling, your face crying (tears streaming down red blotches, hairs, zits), your body standing, your cheeks wrinkling, your muscles loosening—by the amount of likes it will get. what if status updates become souls. what if politics becomes war, and updates become epitaphs, and profiles become spirits, and bodies open up and gush their blood onto damp, shredded fields ‘cause we kept skimming, skimming, skimming each other. what if screens shield us from us like weapons.
i might throw my phone into the puget sound, i keep saying. i might throw it in there and start looking at eyes instead, with nothing in between. i might throw it in there and start planting plants into concrete. i might sit still and listen like my veins are rooting me to the dirt. i might listen to the voices near me like they erupted from the atom and lilted just this once into my ear. i might call it all music. i might praise it all holy.
i might hold holiness close. run my fingertips along its surface. bring it to my nose to bring in with a smell. wander its color with my eyes. has it always been so near? was it always so earthy? i might sleep out here, in the dark night, thoughts pulled by the moontide, where my ancestors rose, where my ancestors fell into dirt, into light, into life.
the animals teach, and the birds tell, and the fish declare. if god’s in me then he’s in the soil, and if he’s in the soil then he’s in the tree, the blessed tree, breathing life into everything, everything, everyone, always forever and ever, amen.
Will Montei is currently in pursuit of a Masters in Teaching at Seattle Pacific University. He has been writing for the post calvin since it began in 2013.