Ask Asteria: My boyfriend and I were having it out about whether or not you’re really a goddess, or if this is just more fake news. I say, why not? But he says no god in their right mind would show up after abandoning the world all this time and expect not to get lynched. He kinda has a point. So why now? Why did you wait so long? And what do you gods intend to do about it? —Hopeless in Hoboken
Thank you for asking the exact questions that have been the underpinning of all interactions between gods and mankind since your creation. Like the stars, some things never change. Those questions are the bridges that allow us to cross into your world. Unfortunately, they are also the questions that burn those bridges to ash when mortals don’t get the answers they need.
Understand that I can’t speak for any of the other elder beings that walk among you. But for my part, I will do my best to answer the questions as I can.
Why now? Well, the short answer to that is, Zeus said so. I know that’s not very satisfying to hear. Trust me, it wasn’t too satisfying for some of us to hear, either. Imagine going, literally, thousands of years doing as you pleased where you pleased when you pleased, and then being told to get in the trenches. It’s the equivalent of the baby bird getting booted from the nest, and Olympus is a cushy, cushy little nest.
It’s not exactly forced occupation, though. We’re glad to be here; just know that gods have attitudes about getting bossed around the same as humans. Our temper-tantrums just have the potential to be far more epic. And when time-out equals Tartarus, well, Earth becomes a five-star hotel.
As for why we waited so long…here’s my take.
This whole thing has really become all about you. I’m sure in some grander scheme than even we know of, it may have always been about you. Gods don’t really change the way humans do. We’re immortal, outliving even the stars. We are just part of the big cosmic machinery going round and round. You don’t really play a part in our games — after all, one of your lives is a godsblink of time. No, my dear Hopeless, we play a part in yours.
When you don’t worship us, we sit, collecting dust, a hoarded treasure on humanity’s shelf. When you don’t talk to us, we don’t talk back. When you don’t need us, we wait until you do again.
That’s what Gods do — we serve. Surprised?
But like the moon goes through her seasons and the stars their endless rounds in the sky, mortals go through their cycles of speaking to and silencing Gods.
We hear from you on the birthing bed and the deathbed, when your comings and goings are closest to the paths we walk. We hear from you in the throes of passion, when you know, for a timeless moment, what immortality can feel like. We hear from you in times of need, when you are desperate for something out of your reach and you seek our aid in reaching it, no different than a toddler asking a parent for something from a high shelf.
For whatever reason, you have asked for us again. Maybe not in so many words. But you have asked for us in the desolate waste you are laying to the things around you. You have asked for us in the contempt you hold for life. You have asked for us in the ethical morass upon which you build for the moment, forgetting future generations. Again, not you specifically, but as a whole, mankind has been crying for the Gods for a long, long time.
And now, we are here.
What we intend to do about it is what we have always done. To guide you. To guard you. To advise you. To warn you. To inspire you. To support you. To give you a hitching post for your faith and a name to cry out in the night.
Just remember, this is your story, not ours. We can guide you to paper and pen. We can speak to your mind and set you on fire. We can hold your hand as the words and deeds come and go. We can steady your heart for the tale to come.
But it is you that must put the pen to paper. It is you that must write what will become the history of this world. Your lives have always been ink on the pages of the annals of time, bleeding out between the bookends of birth and death, with us bearing witness to all.
This may not be the answer you seek. Answers to prayer rarely are — another example of the horrible mismanagement of expectations that has always plagued our relationship with you. I hope you will allow these answers to build bridges between us rather than burn them, for we have missed you so.
P.S. — Tell your boyfriend I highly discourage any proposed god-lynching. I can ask Dinlas to explain it in small words for him. His girls are especially persuasive.
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