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Being Given to Reverence

Art by Paul Rios


Reverence, I am as good at this quality as any other average person: not as good as some, but better than others. Yet with you it seems so easy, without the risk of becoming stiff or maudlin. I have been to your house before and yet this feels truly like the first time. I leave my shoes by the door and sit on your couch and wait for you to sit down next to me. And I begin to think about the feeling of skating backwards: the churning of my legs, the traction of the blades and precision of the footwork and the natural shift of balance. You take your seat and I am gliding around the room. You put your hand on my knee and I still feel like a kid. You say a number of words to me and the ice is still cold.

Reverence is a virtue that I am given to under the correct conditions. I study the books on your shelves the way I studied the stained glass windows of that old Mission-style church when I was five. The look in your eyes, the way they glow internally golden, reminds me of the luminarias lining the courtyard. Your lips are the New Testament and I am still baffled by the crucifix: bloody, brutal, incongruous. Your lips are the New Testament and I feel like a lamb of your flock. Your lips are the New Testament and I am a lamb upon your altar. Your hips are Revelation and I am laid to waste in fire and love.

Reverence is a presence that sits with me from time to time over tea or whiskey or other such offerings of hospitality. We sit together on the couch with our feet curled underneath us or sometimes intertwined. We sit together. We sit with others. We sit with ghosts and ciphers and specters. We sit together not entirely sure if we too are ghosts, if we are bobbing in time’s wake or are creating it. And as you bend to refill our cups, these things become immaterial and irrelevant, blending together into something much larger. You put your hand on my knee and put me on the cross. You say some words into my ear and I am glowing, expanding. You put your lips on mine and together we burn up. There is no more ice. No more stained glass. The courtyard is ablaze and the ghosts and ciphers have followed the smoke up into the ether. We sit together like two luminarias, staring at each other. We sit together, glowing like your eyes, staring at God.


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