Who knows, in the dawn of our ancestors, if we had words before we had cave paintings? What drove or inspired those people, dressed in animal skins and working by flickering torch light, to paint horses and deer and bison in motion on dark cave walls, side by side with figures of hunters and of their own hand prints?
Were these vast panoramas formed first in someone’s imagination and then turned into a project with collective planning, or did they arise for singular reasons to create and to inspire and to make a record of life around them?
Did music come before song? Or did the need to share an experience or a thought lead to grafting words to strings of notes and melodies, with drumbeats echoing the human heart?
It is insatiable, our need to communicate, to exalt, to explain, to show, to share with one another.
There are effigy mounds near my house, raised images in the landscape of deer and panthers. Some were tombs, others were not. They were created by nomadic people more than a thousand years ago, but they still evoke mystery and wonder in their presence.
The language that would have been spoken as they were being built has long been lost but the effort and the artistry remains. Squirrels scamper above them and acorns fall and seasons change as the mounds lay, immovable, under covers of grass and wildflowers and pine needles and branches.
Forest giants—trees a hundred feet tall and more—have sprouted from seeds among them, and grown, and fallen and yet these mounds endure. There have been no live panthers prowling these parts for many years, and yet still they are here, underfoot, if you just imagine.
We are hard-wired and driven in our need to share what we have seen and felt and dreamed. And so we build and we write and we see and we listen, bound together with those that came before us and the ones who will follow, celebrating the human and divine in us all.