A thick forest of gloom.
A small shrine of stone.
A rotting log by a cold fire.
I sit alone on the log staring at the last shrine.

Shrines have propelled the human race.
Each group constructs a shrine for devotion to its chosen god,
Expecting favors in return.
But sooner or later the shrine always runs dry.

The favors cease.
The devotion wanes.
Skeptics arise.
Then someone notices that the shrine next door still seems to work.

Those foreigners next door,
Just far enough away not to have occasioned a war,
But just close enough to borrow and steal from now and then.
Appear to have the real thing.

Their shrine works.
Their gods really do listen and reward.
Our shrine is bogus.
So let’s adopt theirs.

The new shrine works for a while.
Then it too runs dry.
We spy yet another and adopt it.
But that one too will soon run dry and we will seek another again.

Religions and myths have always borrowed and stolen.
They become mixed and mired in each other.
Some religions wrote books to stop it.
But even books as shrines run dry no matter what.

Does the god desert the shrine?
Or was he never there?
Do our devotions eventually fail to please him?
Or do our devotions merely fool us?

We humans need something to worship.
We need an insurance policy against chance and fate.
An insurance policy against a short life and a bad death.
But the company never pays.

Each of us, no matter how modern, erects shrine after shrine in our personal lives.
Shrines to forces that we hope can save us,
Shrines to money, fame, fortune, family, nations, and many other lesser gods.
But these shrines all run dry too.

All the altars where I have worshipped are barren now.
As all shrines do, they have run bone dry.
I wait patiently now for the last god to come through the forest of gloom
To sit beside me near the cold fire at my final shine.