(based on Genesis 2—a story of creation)
Download a dramatic reading of "Forget Me Nots" complete with sound effects and musical score!
"Finish telling us about the beginning of things, Grandpa!"
"All right, honey. Everybody, gather around. Yes, yes, you there and you and you. Now, where were we? Oh, yes, I remember. We had come to the end of the sixth day."
"Did it actually take seven whole days for God to make the world?"
"Honey, no one knows. We weren't there. I imagine God could have just as easily done it in one day or a million, as in seven. All I know is that seven is how my grandfather told the story to me, and he said it was the same story his grandfather told him, so it's the story I pass on to you. There are some very important things to learn from that first week.
"So 'in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.' And when we say, 'in the beginning,' all we can reference is our own; we don't know what may have happened before us. What if there were another whole history of a totally different kind of people before us?
"'God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and take responsibility for the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every living thing that moves upon the earth."
"'God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food."' But that wasn't all God said. He didn't want us to think everything was created just for our benefit."
"Of course it wasn't, Grandpa. Everybody knows that!"
"You'd be surprised, little one. God went on, '"To every beast of the earth and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food."' So it was. 'God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.' And that was the sixth day."
"Sure, but what happens next?"
"God was done with making things, at least for that moment. He had been working for six days straight. It was time to take a rest. So he did. God rested on the seventh day from all the work he had done. And God said to humanity, 'You should do likewise. You can't work all the time. Well you can, but it won't help you. At some point, you have to trust beyond your own abilities. But as sure as I exist, you'll forget. Because you will work and see that you can accomplish many things, you'll be tempted to think you can do everything yourself. So you'll have to do things to remind you that there are more possibilities than just those you can create. This Sabbath, this day of rest, every seventh day, is your first reminder.'"
"But, Grandpa, even though it was God's seventh day, it was only humanity's second!"
"I know, honey. It's a story: you can't over-think it. At least, when you do, don't miss the point.
"Well, what to do? As you say, this was only humanity's second full day, and already there was so much to remember. Remember to be fruitful. Remember responsibility. Remember to share. 'Remember the Sabbath day.' That was a lot.
"Then again, are they not all parts of the same thing? You see, everything was created to do something: 'Sun.. rule the day.' 'Moon and stars... rule the night.' Land and sea bring forth. Creatures do your thing. Humanity be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, take responsibility for it. But when we do what we're made to do, little one, there is a tendency to think what we've done belongs to us. 'I live here: so this is my land.' 'I grew this: so these are my trees.' So before humanity could do much to claim as their own, God said, 'Watch me. I made everything. In that sense, it all belongs to me. But I share it freely with you. And not just you, with every living thing. Free for all!'
"And amazingly, there was enough. And as long as people kept Sabbath, they remembered.
"Is that why we gather every Saturday by the river with neighbors for the big picnic, Grandpa?
"Exactly, little one. In fact, I hear your father calling us now. They must be ready to light the altar. Come children, let's move that direction."
"This is the bull," the man declares to those who are gathering, "we will share in feast today as we gather in rest and remembrance of God's provision for us. Before we eat, we offer it back to the Lord as a symbol of all we owe to him for the great gift of life. And we light this fire as a symbol of God's spirit, a gift back to us which transforms us from lifeless masses who at best serve only ourselves into nourishment for all we meet. Now eat, drink and enjoy the life we've been given. Shalom!"
"Shalom!" the gatherers reply. Then looking at each other, "Shalom," again. Some clasp hands; others embrace, kissing each other on both cheeks.
"Grandpa, can we go swimming with the others in the river?
"Certainly, my dear." The child holds the man's hand as they walk to the river.
"Grandpa, look at those beautiful flowers! They're so pretty. I love the tiny blue petals. I'm going to pick some."
"It's also okay to leave them there as a gift to everyone else. If you pick them, they dies before we finish swimming. If you leave them, everyone can enjoy them time and time again."
"Okay, Grandpa." Then turning to the flowers, "See you later, little flowers; I'll remember you."
The child skips on. The two join the others already in the water. The children splash about in fits of laughter and joy. The adults smile and remember.
Some time later, the child wades over to the man. Everyone is slowly drifting back to the place where the food will be served.
"Grandpa, did God give us any other reminders how much we need each other?"
"Certainly. After giving Sabbath, God said, 'I have another reminder for you. It's called marriage. I have placed within you a sense of incompleteness: a craving for companionship: a longing for someone to see you as you really are, shortcomings and all, and still want your good. If you remember and are fortunate, you will share such love with many friends. However, there may be one in particular whom you find so completes you whereas to make you a better person. Now that's someone you'll want to keep around! Should you find each other, don't be afraid to commit to each other, to marry. Make vows. Keep them. In so doing, you'll remember that through commitment to each other humanity thrives."
"Is that why you married Grandma, Grandpa?"
"Something like that. The same for your mom and dad. Somewhere along the line humanity got the notion that multiplying made more sense within the commitments of marriage. Families made our communities strong. They were the perfect place to practice seeking the good of each other so as to learn how to seek the good of all God's creation. So we marry. And as long as we do, we remember.
"Now you go on and see about your little brother and sister. And don't forget what Grandpa told you."
"I won't, Grandpa. I won't."
Friday, June 11, 2010
(based on Genesis 2—a story of creation)