All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine


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Gangleri

No road so long

you haven’t walked it;

no path so obscure

your feet have not trod it.

One never knows where one might find wisdom

in your wanderings.

You keep Your eye open,

and you walking stick ready,

and your stride is strong and swift.

I do not know you

–none of us really knows you—

but there are some things you allow us to understand,

and that there is no trail you will ignore

for fear of missing

the knowledge it might lead to,

that is one thing you have given us to know.

You might meet challenges on the road,

but they are hardly threats,

and those, too,

offer up their own sort of wisdom.

Those who know only of this face of yours

might think you spend

your entire life on the road,

and they would be wrong,

but if the tales are even half-true,

they are not wrong by much,

and it is a worthy attainment.

The roads whisper your name

from the mouths cracked into the pavement

and the cobblestones

and the dust;

they know who owns them

(as we all do)

and when your son’s thunder roars overhead

and the rains pour down,

the hiss of the water against the road

is a prayer to you,

a hymn to your will and your seekings,

and that prayer is one

we all sing in our hearts

every time we emulate you

when our feet touch down

on a path

–no matter if new or old—

to walk it to where we must go.

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For Educational Purposes

What have I learned in Your keeping?

 

My grasp of the mysteries of the world

is no deeper than the film of motor oil

on the surface of a puddle of rain.

 

My desire to cease existing is neither

unique nor necessarily a surprise,

but my life does not belong to me,

but to you, and I should not destroy

or throw away that which is not mine.

 

I have found that there are more things

linked to you than I knew

–indeed, almost everything in the universe

seems to bear your signature upon its soul.

 

But also, finally, that all these defects may

be remedied if only I continue to draw breath,

feel the sun on my face, hear the wind at night,

and continue to exist in your service.


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To Odin

I don’t want to follow in your footsteps:

I recognize I am too weak for the

sacrifice of well and tree.

This does not mean I have not known pain

in my lifetime, only that I do not, cannot,

compare it with yours.

And yes, there is fear—

how could there not be?

I think of all that you are and quake;

You are not exactly known for your kindness.

A friend writes that it is a folly

to think that the Gods do not care for mortals.

Not all gods will concern themselves

with all humans, of course—

they take an interest in just certain ones,

just as we mortals may take an interest

in a favorite actor or author or painter,

or even a sports team.

We do not know why you choose

certain of us, of course;

for the most part,

You’re not telling,

and it would be rude (and dangerous!) to pry.

Now, saying that the gods care for us

is not the same as saying that they defer to us,

nor would I wish it so;

that is not the natural order of things.

What I mean is that it is natural to be afraid of you,

from time to time,

just as I would fear an earthquake,

or a tornado

or a wildfire

or a hurricane—

forces of nature, all so much greater in power than I,

and unpredictable,

with unguessable motivations,

smashing down boundaries,

ignoring the desires of the venal and greedy

and lazy and weak

(and sometimes the strong and the humble

and the dedicated and the committed, too),

and generally doing whatever must be done

to achieve their goals.

 

No, I don’t want to follow in your footsteps,

but I want to be of use.

I want to learn.

I know my fear has thrown up a wall between us—

no wall could keep you out

if you did not permit it to,

but I think, perhaps, you let it stand,

maybe to see how long I would go,

allowing myself to remain apart from you

(in my fear, or maybe my stubbornness),

before at last I cracked.

 

Longer than I should have,

but less time than it could have been, I guess.

I’m tired of—well, not fighting,

because I can’t hope to fight you—

but of struggling,

like a small fish trapped in an unbreakable net.

 

If you will still have me,

if I have not exhausted your patience,

(I do not delude myself that I could make you angry,

You who have faced down giants and trolls

and monsters without a qualm,

but neither do I think your patience is endless),

 

If you will still have me,

here I am.


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Guardians

I look for your messengers

–your Thoughts and your Memories–

for seeing them lets me know

You are still watching over me.

You leave me to walk my own Wyrd.

That does not mean you are uninterested

in what happens to me,

but you have never been my babysitter,

nor my parent, nor my watchman.

I am not supposed to lean on you,

constantly begging, making demands;

from time to time I talk to you,

and some of those times, I lament problems

I may have encountered,

but I have never asked you to wave a magic wand

and make everything magically all better.

This is why it is so heartening to see them there,

perched on that line every day as I

walk home from work;

just two ravens, no more, no less,

and I think always the same two,

peering down at me in curiosity,

and then flying off to report what they have seen

once I have passed.


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Shared Wisdom

From Hliðskjálf you see down

through every realm, every land, every home.

You who have drank of Kvasir’s mead,

you who gave your eye to Mimir’s well,

and who hears his head whisper to you in the night,

you who hung on the tree for nine days and nine nights,

pierced through with Gungnir:

I know of no other with the depth of wisdom you possess.

Yours are the answers to all my questions;

Yours is the knowledge of man and beast and tree,

ocean and mountain and fire.

You were present from the time that the universe was licked

from the ice by Audumhla and Ymir,

High, Just as High, and Third,

Hrafngud, Ganglieri, Haptaguð, Olgr, Uðr,

I know nothing in comparison with you,

but I know enough to know that it is wisdom

to ask for your guidance,

that I may benefit from the wisdom

you have spent all your existence acquiring,

and if I am most fortunate,

you may even grant it.


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A Plea to Odin

How many times has the thought of failing you

brought me to tears, my Lord?

I fear I will never be good enough to serve you

as you should properly be served.

I have no shame to kneel before you and

acknowledge you as my greater;

Humans are not the equals of the gods.

Many times I have let my weaknesses lead me astray:

Distracted by mortal concerns,

mortal weariness,

mortal woe;

I regret that my focus on you and yours is not as strong as I wish it was.

Desires are ever stronger than willpower, I have long known.

Nevertheless, I pray you, do not forget me, do not forsake me;

If my spirit is willing and my flesh is weak, let my spirit

be the teacher that will lead my flesh to be stronger for you.

As I grow older, and older yet still,

do not think that I have forgotten you;

as the vicissitudes of the flesh bring me pain, exhaustion, illness,

I do not suddenly give you up

in the thought that such a betrayal will make things easier;

I know my destiny, my wyrd, and from beginning to end,

it lies with you.

I honor other gods, true;

The bloody queen of Ireland,

Her fire-shaping healer-poet cousin,

the swift-footed trickster of Greece,

and that land’s lady gardener,

the siblings of the Vanir,

and your own blood-brother

(despite that more cowardly and spiteful men

say I should spurn him),

but I am owned only by you.

I do not mistake you for fictional representations of you,

though I can see the echoes and ghosts of you in those

that the creators and actors tried to summon.

I ask only that you understand my failings–

not forgive them, as I do not ask for forgiveness,

and I am strong enough, at least, to own my failures–

and give me the chance, always, when my mortality drags me down,

to keep on striving to be worthy of you,

or as worthy as any mortal can hope to be.

I know you will never stop testing me,

and I can only hope that some day,

I will pass the test and thereby please you.