"In the beginning, God said..."
Whether you are theistic, atheistic, or somewhere in between, this is a unique way to begin a book about the history of a people. It could also be translated, "First, God said...", meaning the first act of creation was not the act of creation but the act of a sentient, superior being 'speaking'. In other words, the first interaction between a Creator and the created was verbal. We see this echoed in the civilized world with a simple greeting when two people meet: "Hello", or, "Hi", or, if it were Joey from the TV sit-com "Friends", it would be, "So, how you doin'?" And in this simple initiative we have the beginnings of a relationship. The relationship may be brief, for just that one moment, or one that could last a lifetime. Another way of portraying this would be, "In the beginning of this encounter with you, I say...". And therein is the instant of creation of my relationship with you.
During the next few micro-moments you and I will decide whether to build on or create something more or else let the possibilities be stillborn. With each succeeding instant of time we either invest more or divest from the possibilities. Each new word that is exchanged means we become more invested. And yet with each new step there is still the prospect of a relationship that is soon over before it has a chance to flourish.
Since we both are endowed with free will, either of us can veto progress. We can abort the birth of friendship at any time. But suppose we don't? What develops if we both choose to move beyond "...and we said". Then we begin to cultivate a relationship that can benefit both. We begin to create the equivalent of not 1 + 1 = 2, but rather 1 + 1 = more than 2. There is me, and you, and we. We become greater than the sum of our parts.
The Book continues: "In the beginning was the Word...and the Word became flesh..."
Again, setting aside one's theological bent, consider what is happening here in the relationship between Creator and created. The Verbal Expression has plunged past the simple exchange of information and has become intimately connected with the finite world and community. It would be as if I were to at last declare you as my unshakeable friend in our unbreakable relationship.
Our relationship is not superficial as it might once have been in its infancy. Instead, I give you my word that I will stand with you, walk with you, defend you, care for you and be completely honest with you. What I say is true and can be trusted with absolute confidence and certainty. When people in past generations said, "I give you my word", it could be trusted more than a signed document. Why? Because one's word was inextricably woven into the fabric of one's honor. Giving one's word is not simply a mere promise. It is, or at least was, far more than that. To give one's word meant that your relationship with the other person was far beyond simple friendship. It was not simply reliable. It was somewhat spiritual and at the same time tangible. It was inviolate.
I don't know that we can ever recover that level of personal commitment. I continue to hold out hope that we can. To try and reform society to such a value and tradition is probably impossible. To change the way I personally hold this sacred is possible. As I have aged, and hopefully grown a bit wiser, I have consciously made it my mantra to let my word be true and reliable. The more I do it the easier it becomes, even if it remains an alien concept to most. But to my last breath I will strive to be as honest, open and trustworthy as I believe the people in my world deserve. I give you my word.
Created by Robb Shultz, Tomball, Texas, September 4, 2013. Registration #644427.
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