In the Garden of the Stone Gods

March 27, 2009

The day was blue, a cloudless display of brilliant Sun on the verdant grass. She saw their dark shadows cast upon that grass, which she tread with careful and deliberate steps. Past the faded white stone gate, they loomed alone on the otherwise vacant expanse.

Weather and time had competed with their creators' chisels to impact their design, but the statues remained unmistakable. Here she saw Athena, clad in her armor, hands bearing Victory and shield. There she spied Ares, his countenance giving no indication of his retreat made famous by Homer.

Dazzled yet green, she sat sulking beneath the towering shadow of Hera. Cheeks resting on palms, she stared up at Hermes. Never would she enjoy the clever mind of the quick god. Her eyes darted to the side, and fixed upon Hades. Her coffers would never be as full, and her influence never so pervasive. Finally, eyeing Aphrodite, she reflected that her beauty would never equal that of the goddess.

With her neck bent, and her eyes on the grass, she stood. The sun began to descend as she was pacing slowly around the silent deities. Eventually, defeated, she settled under Apollo.

In silence, she watched the gods. They were silent, she realized, because there was nothing for them to say. They were still, for there was nothing left for them to do. Hermes was fast, of course -- but would never grow faster. Aphrodite would never become more beautiful. While Hades had wealth, it would never increase; and there was nothing for him to do with it anyway. There was nothing left for these gods to accomplish or achieve. They had no reason to speak or move or hope or breath. They had nowhere to go but down.

Within herself, she felt an unbounded potential for improvement unknown to those stone gods. Within her mortal body and fragile mind, she felt what those divine rocks never would -- the hope that she would one day become more shrewd, more powerful, and more beautiful. The hope that she would become better than she had been.

The stone gods' bodies had remained in place for centuries; she knew that her soft flesh would not be so enduring. But she also knew that she would not be so fixed, so rigid, so oblivious to the outside world, and so devoid of improvement.

And, thus reflecting, she stood up and did what those mighty gods could not do: she walked out of the garden.