I can’t have been a day over ten years old, maybe even younger. My family was one of those that actually made a point of having someone, usually Mom, read to my siblings and I every night. There was the usual mix of Mother Goose and Brothers Grimm and stories from the Bible, but mixed in with all that my mother used to love to read to us about ancient Gods and Hero’s.
At first it was mostly Greek, my earliest memories being learning about Hercules, Perseus, Theseus and Bellerophon. Later on though she picked up a book, Norse Gods & Giants by Ingri d’Aulaire and began to read to us from that as well. From there I first learned about the thundering God Thor who battled giants and monsters, Loki the trickster who was more often than not in the stories for making Thor’s life interesting. Those two, with their constant back and forth like a comedy duo and heroic quests, were the ones I most easily latched on to as a small boy.
One little snippet from there latched on at that time and never let me go though. In the descriptions of Odin the book talked about how sometimes He would disguise Himself and walk among men. Testing their hospitality and sharing wisdom with those He deemed worthy. That image is the one of the Old Man that has stuck with me the longest: The quiet stealthy God who doesn’t always warn you He’s coming. The one who leaves you always wondering if He might be the one outside the door, waiting with wisdom that might just be worth hearing.