Brian Doyle is editor of Portland magazine at the University of Portland. He is the author of Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies, A Shimmer of Something: Lean Stories of Spiritual Substance, and, most recently, Chicago, a novel.
One morning this summer I was basking in the sun With the brother closest to me in age. We had been Brought up almost as twins but then took disparate Roads, as twins do. He was sobbing and I was near Tears and the ocean was muttering. I heard a heron. We had been having the most naked open talk we’d Had in many years. I wanted to tell him how deeply I loved him but words are just so weak and shallow. So I talked about the forsythia bush we used to hide Under together. It was the safest place on the planet. The light was always amazing in there and it wasn’t Ever muddy somehow and you were draped in gold. It was a hut a huddle a tent a canopy a cave a refuge. Sometimes you have to use a thing to say something Else. We do this all the time. We talk sideways, yes? But sidelong is often the only road that gets to where You know you need to go. So much means lots more Than it seems like it could mean. Tears, for example.
You want to hear a resurrection story? I’ll tell you A resurrection story. I saw a squirrel get squished In the street. This was on Ash Street, near where a Family named Penance lives. Things like this rivet Me. Religions don’t live in churches. Religions are Not about religion, in the end; they’re vocabularies. This squirrel got hammered. I mean, a car ran right Over it, and the car sped down the hill, and I recall Thinking that some dog would soon be delighted to Be rolling ecstatically in squirrel oil, but then, even As I watched, the animal resumed its original shape And staggered off into the laurel thicket, inarguably Alive and mobile, if somewhat rattled and unkempt. Jesus and Lazarus must have known that feeling, of Being sore in every joint, and utterly totally fixated On a shower and coffee and a sandwich. Or walnuts, Depending, I suppose, on species. Our current form Is a nebulous idea, is what I am trying to say. Could It be that resurrections are normal and the one we’re Always going on about in the Christian mythologies Is only One a long time ago, when there are millions Per day? Could there be an insect Jesus and a badger Jesus and a salmon Jesus? Could there be impossible Zillions of Jesuses? Isn’t that really the whole point?