Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Ken Rodgers
Next Christmas I want to visit Lascaux in southwest France and marvel at the cave paintings old, yet new. I don't believe in Christmas or Allah of Shiva. I believe in the paintings and what they imply about symbol.
To what purpose are we here? That's what those cave paintings signify to me. Manifestations of a need to understand. Black aurochs, bison, horses, stags—things we used to eat, devour now, things with sinew for thread, and bone for needles, adzes and flutes. Not so much different than batteries for trucks, gas for the stove, the Whopper from Burger King.
What the hell has this to do with Christmas? Good question. I think cave paintings are, besides great art, symbols created by shamans to ensure the good hunt. Ensure the good hunt. Ensure the ample crop, good weather for the picking of cotton, so the picking machines don't get stuck in the mud and the cotton bowls don't rot. Ensure that the mail's on time and all my presents arrive by Christmas Day, and the goose I want to cook on the Weber is fresh, and the pippins for the stuffing.
Ensure, ensure. At Lascaux and now.
That's what's intriguing to me. I don't mean to get flippant, but to ensure we live another ten minutes.
What about hailing Jesus in all this ceremony? It might help, if you aren't quite sure and you need to hedge your bet. Or Allah or Shiva.
Yes, ceremony gets rich and complex, and we argue over what prophet said what, and whether a birth is divine or not and then we knife someone over the whole damned thing.
Yeah, this stuff is old. At least 17,000 years or more. The need to work with whatever is available, and what might not be, to ensure the caribou show up when pots are empty.
Imagine the hunt, the use of bone horns and other racket-makers to drive the herd to a cliff, over the edge, calling forth the women folk to go forth and butcher, go forth and deliver the blood, bone, fillet and sinew necessary to endure, ensure, that one child begets another, begets another, begets another so that I can beget a child who begets a child who needs a gift card for itunes, a set of paints, and cash to buy a game to play on the wii machine.
I don't believe in Jesus, but I believe in Lascaux and what they endeavored to do (I assume that's what they were trying to do,) to live, to live, to live. Not die, but thrive. From there, given our propensity to complicate things, it's not too big a jump to get to resurrected. But before we can get resurrected, we need to be begotten, like Jesus, on December 25, 0000. The date ain't important, or the place, but that he, it, she, the aurochs, the bison are born and show up.
Ken Rodgers dwells in the Treasure Valley of Idaho. Lately he's spent Saturdays tromping the hard hills of winter, dispatching western screech owls from the warmth of wood duck boxes. See more about Ken at www.kennethrodgers.com.
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