Saturday, September 20, 2008


It's odd how I'm reminded that I still have a lot in common with my Judeo-Christian roots.

A few days ago I picked up a fossil in the yard. No big deal. It's a bit of striated material that might be part of a plant, or maybe even a sea creature like a crinoid. It may be something else entirely. They're pretty common around here. I'm always picking up little pieces like that. This one was bit enough and complete enough to make it into the house to be rinsed off an placed in a curio cabinet next to the megaladon teeth and the trilobites. Treasured like a relic of some long dead saint, revered for being traces of the creatures that shaped the world where our ancestors evolved.

Just because it's the new oddity in the collection, I've looked at it several times over the last few days. tracing the rows of parallel lines like footsteps traced in a meditative maze inlaid on some cathedral floor. I am entranced by the incense of curiosity and the ancient.

And then we come to this morning's coffee. nursed slowly after my shower; I didn't sleep well. I have a big mug filled with creamy coffee that I'd half drained before getting into the shower. I stood in the kitchen taking long slow sips, allowing the incense of java sooth me, with my lip and nose ensconced in the mug.

The mug is one of clear glass, and so I can see that creamy sacred beverage quite well. The bottom of my mug is filled with a fine haze of black coffee-bean powder that has settled out of the coffee while I was in the shower. And as I tip the cup's contents up to my lip, and away, up to my lip and away, the black dust streams away from the bottom of the cup in a series of lines, just like the lines in my fossil. But they're moving. I've stopped drinking now and I'm just moving the coffee, back and forth, watch the lines move as they evoke in my mind an ancient sea. My movement continues in genuflection to this mirage, imagining delicate life forming in ancient tides.

At that point, my wife wanders into the room and asks the perfectly reasonable question, "What on EARTH are you doing?" I tried to explain, and of course failed miserably, then tried to show her, with coffee that was by then hopelessly mixed up. The vision was gone. I shrugged. "I just had the evolutionists' version of finding an image of Jesus in my toast."