I’m enamored of Scott’s description of a restless God, mostly because “a restless God” wasn’t language I’d considered before hearing Scott read this poem at our group faculty reading in June (which is where I snagged the recording). But it struck me as apropos to Mormonism’s teachings on the nature of God, who is, paradoxically, both perfect and eternally progressing. Which I take to mean that his character is perfect or complete within his more exalted sphere of eternal development and that he moves from perfection to perfection within a program—an eternal round—of endless progression. As God’s offspring, our movement through the eternities will mirror his movement.
In Scott’s cosmology, nature’s movements mirror God’s restlessness. Water’s “continuous / forgetting and forgetting,” the algorhythmic beauty and combustion of a forest fire, “the myriad orchids and sea creatures” and beetles: all flow from what the poet’s “blue-grass fiddler” friend calls God’s “vain attempt to gasp.” Since “God cannot be surprised” yet yearns for something to satiate his restlessness, such attempts may just occupy God’s eternities as he sifts through his works for something that will catch his breath, that will remind him he’s alive. Something that will make him gasp “as you do when water is cold enough; / the sudden memory of feeling what you had forgotten.” This might, of course, just be the poet projecting his humanness onto God. It might be a result of his believing too much that eternity will reflect certain aspects of mortality. But I’m on record as holding the same belief. So exploring the idea of a restless God seems to me a bit like coming home.