“Can I ask you something else?” Rue shifted and adjusted himself in Joy’s lap.
“Of course you can, anything.” Joy ran her fingers through his hair and smiled.
“How could everything be created in 24-hour days when the sun, moon and stars weren’t created until fourth day? And what about plants and animals being created before Adam and Eve in Genesis chapter one, but after Adam and before Eve in chapter two? It just doesn’t make sense … especially if the Bible’s not supposed to have any mistakes.”
“Ah … hmmm.” Joy leaned her head back, pondering just how to carefully answer important questions being asked by a child, whose whole life and world seemed to be falling apart. She knew there was far more at stake here than the inquisitiveness of an exceptionally bright, little boy. No, he was questioning everything he’d been taught by a man he’d learned to despise – the “father” he never wanted to call “father” again – yet it was his whole life and world.
“Well … you know, Rue…” Joy faltered. “Let me see, how can I explain? Well, first of all, those are really good questions, and I think you’re right to ask them. But you know what? I think I … look at those chapters a little differently than maybe what you’ve … heard before. Actually, those … stories are very beautiful and very powerful. And when those stories were told long, long ago – and I mean way back – people didn’t think quite like we think today.”
“What d’ya mean?” Good question. Difficult to answer for an eleven-year-old boy?
“Well, I mean … when people told those stories, they weren’t thinking like scientists or historians do today. Like the first chapter of Genesis,” Joy waded in cautiously. “You know, it was told, or actually recited, before it was written down – maybe around a campfire or after dinner, and maybe by the grandfather while everyone else, especially the children, sat and listened. And it was … well, poetic. Not poetry like we think of poetry, but it kind of had that ‘flavor,’ you might say. This made it easy to repeat and easy to remember.”
“Anyway, even when it was written down, it kept some of that ‘poetic flavor.’ You see, this was a powerfully beautiful way those people understood how … well, how the world was born, how everything came into existence. And so, you know, they didn’t really get upset by what we call ‘scientific’ or ‘historic’ details. No, they just … told the story, or recited it, or maybe they even chanted or sang it, who knows?”
“Does that mean it’s not really true?” Rue didn’t sound upset. “It’s not inspired?”
“No, no, I’m not saying that, my love.” Joy smiled again. “In fact I think it was inspired … and inspirational, too! No, Rue, poetry and art and stories can be inspired but not be … an exact science or history. In fact, maybe even more so.” She laughed at this, thinking back about how boring math and science had always felt when she was in school. “Anyway, the first chapter of Genesis is pretty unique. It begins with the ‘big picture,’ you might say, and then narrows it all down, but it does this in a really neat way.”
“How?” Rue looked a bit confused.
“Yeah,” Joy laughed. “You’re really smart, I know, because you’re already asking good questions, and you’re asking them because you’ve paid really good attention, so … here’s one for you. Have you ever noticed how similar the first three days of creation are to days four through six, the second three days?”
“No,” Rue frowned, thinking about it for a moment. Joy took another sip of coffee and put the cup down again. “No, I don’t guess so.”
“Day four goes with day one; day five goes with day two; day six goes with day three,” Joy explained. “These are parallels. And this is part of the … ‘poetry.’ This is how they understood and … talked about, or explained, the beginning of life and the world.” Joy paused for a moment to let Rue mull that over in his mind, hoping she wasn’t making amok of it all. “Yeah, so these folks start out painting the ‘big picture’ in the first three days, then they go back and … flesh out, or add more details, in the second three days.”
“Really?” Rue didn’t look quite convinced. “You mean, like, God creating light on the first day goes with creating the sun and moon on the fourth day?” Maybe not convinced, but at least Joy knew he understood what she was saying.
“Yeah…” Joy shifted and leaned forward. “Hop over for a minute and let me get something.” Joy stood up and headed for a bookshelf on the far side of the room. “It’s probably easier when you actually put the days together … you know, because we do think differently than those people from way-back-when.” Joy chuckled at the thought. “And we think we’re sooooo much smarter, but we tend to box in our minds.” Now she was enjoying herself.
“Ah, here it is!” Joy pulled out an old, three-ring binder. “We’re so scientific now, we’ve completely forgotten how to think creatively… In fact, we’ve almost completely forgotten the metaphorical nature of language…”
“Huh?” Now Rue looked completely perplexed as Joy got carried away with herself.
“Oh, sorry, Rue.” Joy sat back down with the three-ring binder. “I mean ‘picture thinking…’ Language is like painting pictures … analogies, metaphors. Well, no, never mind about that right now. Let me see.” Joy turned page after page. “Here it is! This was something I jotted down in seminary, but I can’t remember exactly why… But anyway, here it is, the picture being ‘painted’ in Genesis chapter one. Ready?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Rue laughed. “So this is the Joy Brighterday version?”
Joy laughed, too. “Yeah, o.k. I guess it is… Don’t tell King James, o.k.?” They both cackled, then Rue promised he wouldn’t breath a word. “Alright. Here it is, Genesis chapter one according to the JBV!”
God said, “Let there be light.” And light suddenly flashed out from the darkness as the sun, moon and stars appeared; and the light was beautiful and good, and so God separated the light from the darkness, and commanded the sun to rule the day and the moon and stars to rule the night. And God was pleased.
And then God said, “Let there be a vast expanse in the middle of the waters. Let the waters above part from the waters below. So God parted the waters and formed sky and sea; and the sea God filled with living creatures and the sky with all the birds; and the birds and sea creatures were magnificent, so God blessed them and God was pleased.
And then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be collected together so that dry land may appear.” And God called the dry land “earth,” and commanded the earth to give life to all kinds of animals and reptiles; and then God said, “Now let Us conceive a new creation, made in Our image, fashioned according to Our likeness.” And so God created humans – women and men – and God blessed them and made them caretakers of the earth; and God was very pleased.
Joy closed the binder and looked at Rue. “This, really, is probably more like they thought about it all … you know, those people who lived long, long ago. They weren’t even trying to give a detailed, scientific account of the origins of the universe.” Joy chuckled then and shook her head. Rue smiled and moved back to his place on her lap.
“Not like some boring, classroom lesson or something. Again, it’s inspired, for sure! An inspired, beautiful, powerfully poetic way of understanding and explaining how God, the greatest artist of all, created a really very beautiful, fascinating world… Well, and how this God put very special people in this very beautiful world to take care of it, which includes you and me.”
“Wow.” Rue yawned, reached up and put a hand partway around Joy’s neck, then laid his head back down on her chest. “I’ve never heard any of that…” He stifled another yawn. “So what about chapter two? You gotta JBV for that, too?”
Joy threw her head back and laughed. “Maybe so, Rue! But not this morning; I’m starting to get kind of hungry.”
“Yeah, me too,” Bane said from the mouth of the hallway. “Real hungry!”
2 thoughts on “Joy With God, Creation and Rue”
I think I missed a section haven’t been on face book lately nor that much on the computer. How is all going end. I hope good. Have a Joy Brighterday Kind of day. Much Peace and Joy to you. Jean
Thank you, Jean! You too!