I met the presiding bishop of the ELCA last weekend in Phoenix. A bright, intelligent leader possessing wit, charm and a great sense of humor. As a featured speaker on Day One, as the preacher of the closing sermon on Day Two, in responding to questions, or in small group and individual conversations during the intervening hours of those days, I heard consistency, factual knowledge of complex world affairs and a deep commitment to the humanity, which is the body of our Church. Also, she plays a mean flute. What a blessing and a delight to have met you, Reverend Elizabeth A. Eaton.
The group of warthogs was up along the top of the ridge, trotting along tails pointed up, as usual. As we watched, they unexpectedly stopped and looked down on us, in our Land Cruiser. Almost immediately, they turned and angled their path toward us. They slowed to an unhurried pace and appeared to be casually grazing, but they kept a constant route directly at us.
We had been photographing a Tawny Eagle defending it's recently slain Kirk's Dik Dik prey from scavengers, but it was losing that battle to a gathering of hyenas, jackals, vultures and even a Marabou Stork who was, you guessed it, "just standing around" for a share. We took our last shots as the eagle flew of with the largest portion it could save and the others crashed into each other vying for the remnants of the tiny antelope torso. Then we shifted our attention. Why were these warthogs so focussed on heading directly at us?
As the warthogs came at us, we zoomed our lenses in to capture better images of their bodies and faces. We could see why they had come by their name, but the lead animal had a strange, engaging look about her. Our guides advised she was female. It was she who was the apparent leader of the group and it was she who was fixated on the path toward us. Steadily closer they came, right up to us and she, the leader, right into the shadow cast by our our vehicle. Her long face almost filled my entire viewfinder.
As I waited for her to get back into better light, I took a long look at her face. Her snout was down, but her eyes seemed to twinkle and almost wink occasionally, glancing upward. Was it the sunlight or was it my imagination? "I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Photographer," she seemed to be saying with an almost coy glance. What else could I do? Almost blushing, I obliged her.
As humans, we are special because of our brains, not necessarily our brawn. We think, speak and share as individuals, just like other species relate to one another. We differ from other species on our planet because we share, learn and grow in community with other humans, exponentially.
Our links began with primitive man and oral history and stories retold verbally. The stories were soon depicted as petroglyphs in the the cave drawings or carvings in rock walls made by prehistoric people. Hundreds of thousands of years later these evolved into hieroglyphics, a kind of picture graphic script or set of uniform conventionalized symbols, that were recognizable pictures of the things represented, found in the decorative artwork of the temples, palaces and tombs of the ancient Egyptians.
Telling stories and passing it on to future generations went through many iterations, during the course of the evolution of man. Let us zoom through the monks and their handwritten scrolls, the breakthrough by Gutenberg, with bound texts, the acceleration of printing and modern communication methodology to our present time, with computers, the internet, mobile devices and the explosion of pictures and “lol language” which, though extremely abbreviated and fleeting, fill our eager and racing minds with information today.
That was fast, but was it satisfying? I believe in the basic pieces called stories and pictures, which speak for themselves…or together…as GLYPHS. I hope you will enjoy, be satisfied by and share my GLYPHSBLOG.
P.S. The glyph on this wall face in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona depicts two native horsemen chasing and killing a deer for food. Those hunters went to great lengths to capture the food and to proudly tell of their accomplishment. They probably had the artistic help of a fellow tribesman, who specialized in this early form of human events recording, during the ancient times of southwest of North America.