Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-17
I’ll Make Me a World
Can any word express what it means to be present at an act of creation? Reverence or wonder are words we us. Such beautiful things as holding the newborn, seeing the delicacy of infant fingers. Two personal events that evoked wonder were standing at the beginning of a river. At the base of a mountain water welled up out of the ground, formed a crystal clear pool, and then began to flow through Honduras as the Rio Linda. Another ‘creation experience’ was attending a symphony of Hayden’s "The Seasons" that was to be accompanied by an another composition on the theme of creation. The conductor surprised everyone by placing the unknown composition first, telling us it had not yet been recorded. Its author described how her music expressed passages from the writings of Teilhard de Chardin. Surprise accompanied wonder. Can’t we go on an on with the unrepeatable, new wonders that we meet: the peak of a sunset, a formation of geese accompanied by their honking, pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope…
The thoughts and words of the writer of Genesis make us present to see creation happen, but we also see that it is the work of Our Loving God. We see our special place, we are made in God’s image. It is, ‘very good’.
This month of February is Black History Month. It is the black poet, James Weldon Johnson who died in 1938, who wrote his poem, ‘The Creation’ in "God’s Trombones." In his images we hear a lovely retelling of the story of Creation. Here is a sampling.
"God stepped out on space and looked around, and he said, ‘I’m lonely, I’ll make me a world’….darkness covered everything, blacker than a hundred midnights down in the cypress swamp. God reached out an took the light in his hands and God rolled the light around until he made the sun….with the light that was left from making the sun, God gathered it up into a shining ball and flung it into the darkness, spangling the night with the moon and the stars. And God said, ‘That’s good’.
"God saw that the earth was hot and barren, so God stepped over to the edge of the world and spat out the seven seas….he clapped his hands and the thunders rolled….
"As God walked around, he looked at the world with all his living things, and God said: ‘It’s still lonely here.’ By a deep river he sat down, with his head in his hands God thought and thought, till he thought, ‘I know! I’ll make me a man!’
"Up from the bed of the river, God scooped the clay, by the banks of the river he kneeled him down and there the great God almighty who lit the sun, who flung the stars, who rounded the earth in the middle of both hands, this great God, like a mammy bending over her baby, kneeled down in the dust toiling over a lump of clay, until it was shaped in his own image. Into it he blew the breath of life and man became a living soul. And God said: ‘He’s good. He’s very good’."
Fr. William Murphy, CP is pastor of St. Joseph’s Monastery parish in Baltimore, MD.