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The Little Story of the Walking Word

 The Easter Vigil liturgy, which takes place in the evening of Holy Saturday, has always dazzled me, with all that fire and darkness dynamics, the solemn Exultet, the five readings spanning through the History of Salvation plus three psalms, all under candle light, the glorious and glamorous Glory. It is the one Mass of the year I love the most, and I´m the type of person to like masses. Yesterday´s readings reminded me of a fable I wrote 14 years ago when I lived in Montreal, which a few years later I translated for some friends in Toronto. This is the fable I copy below, along with its Torontonian preface.

Happy Easter!

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Toronto, March 2006

Dear friends,

Below is a little story I wrote for my family in the Lent of 2001,
about Jesus as the Creative Word of God. Given that it’s Lent again,
it popped into my mind again, and I thought I’d translate it into
English and share it with you:

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THE LITTLE STORY OF THE WALKING WORD

Once upon a time, in the beginning, there was a very lively and creative little Word. It was God’s very own Word, and since it loved God very much, whenever God wanted to do anything, this little Word would go and do it for Him with pleasure.

So God said: “Let there be light!” and the little Word went tchum! and there was light. And God thought it was really cool.

The next day, God, who had really liked the idea, said: “Let there be a firmament to separate the waters, because it’s all very messy!” And the little Word went and – ta-da! – made the firmament, which God called “sky”, because it sounds so much better than “firmament”.

The next day, God said: “I think it’d be better if the waters below were all gathered together in a single place.” So the little Word went – tan dan! – and put all the waters together in a single spot, which God called “sea” and then there was this one corner where it was quite dry, which God called “earth”.

God thought this was so neat that He said: “I think that green would really go well here. Green everywhere! Trees, shrubs, herbs, and things like that!” So the little Word went and made all that. And God thought it was all very cool.

The next day, God, who was finding the whole business very productive and a lot of fun, said: “How about some shimmering lights in the sky? Then there could be days and years…” And the little Word went: “plaf!”, shimmering lights all set. God left the big one to keep track of days, and the others to keep track of nights. And God thought it was awesome!

The next day, God, who was really having a great time, said: “How about we have the waters teeming with things full of life, and above the earth we have birds flying all around?” And the little Word went and took care of all that. And then God got really excited and the little Word, who needed no extra motivation to be extra creative, made every kind of monster, and creatures, and thingies, flying, crawling, walking, hopping, swimming. Everthing was just teeming with life.

The next day, which was day number six, a Friday, God, who was very pleased with his little Word’s work, said: “Let us make people in our image and likeness, and let them take care of all we’ve made so far.” And thus it was that human beings came about. God left them to take care of everything he’d made that week, and spent the seventh day resting, for it’d been quite a busy week after all. [Genesis 1]

So it came that humans were in charge of the things God made. But humans weren’t quite as clever as God, and could be very silly and stubborn sometimes. So sometimes God would get a little angry with them, sometimes he’d be pleased and so proud, sometimes he’d send them a message, sometimes He’d leave them in a corner to think about their actions, sometimes He’d send them presents, in short, God took good care of His children, like a good parent.

One day, instead of sending people a message through courier or something, God decided to go Himself and have a Word with them. So there went God’s little Word, same as always, always doing whatever God wanted. Down went the little Word of God to have a chat with humans, because God knew after all that the best way to teach something is to show by example (that’s where St. Augustine got his teaching theory from), and this little Word had a vast amount of experience in doing things. It was a very active and creative little Word, always on the go. It was God’s little Word, after all, and if it is Word and Action that makes a good teacher, God, who is perfect, can be in his Word personified be nothing short of a perfect teacher. Thus it was that the Word became flesh and came to live among us.

God’s little Word took care of a good many things God wanted to do. The little Word often went to the mountain to talk with God, because mountains had for a long time been God’s Word favorite spot. This little Word was not only very active: it was also very talkative: it talked to God frequently just to touch basis, to check the plans, and it talked to people, and told all about the plans, and about God, always in that manner that was so typical of Itself, not only talking, but doing, since action speaks louder than words.

So it was that the little Word of God who always did everything God wanted did many many things during this time God decided to talk to people in person. And God’s little Word did so much and talked so much that one day He finished saying what He’d come to say, and doing what He’d come to do, and teaching what He’d come to teach, and right there and then God’s voice was gone: like any teacher who cares much more about the people in His charge than they themselves realise, God lost His voice.  It had after all been a particularly busy day, and He’d
accomplished an extremely amazing feat. It was again Friday, end of the week, the sixth day, the day when He and His little Words had reserved for the human creation. And now that the job was done, mission accomplished, God, with no voice left, laid down to rest: it was the Sabbath again, His day of rest, since the beginning of time.

But after resting the whole Sabbath long, there came Sunday, the first day of the week all over again. So God woke up and said: “Awesome! Let’s go make everything anew again? Here I go, look, I’m making everything new, all over again! [Revelation 21] Creation is constant re-creation, and that’s why it’s so much fun!”

And who could have ever imagined? There was God’s little Word again, as full of life and energy as always! Who would have thought that after all its adventures and extremely excruciating undertakings in  its mission among humans, the little Word would come to life again? But God is God after all, and wouldn’t go on speechless forever. He had always been just too fond of His own Voice for that.

And so it is that His story (History?) ends just like it began: with God’s super Word going about doing and making things. God, after all, has always had the First and the Last Word, the first and the last Letter, the Alpha and the Omega, the A and the Z.

There is another longer version of this story, comprising many many books, of which I cited the first and the last just to situate the reader. Let those who have already learned how to read go and read!

A Writing Life

“I´m only really alive when I´m writing.” – Tennessee Williams

I live while I write
I live to write
I live to have something to write about
I live to tell stories

I write to live
To gain my daily bread
To savour my daily bread writefully gained
To savour life
Writable in all its unspeakable details

Bike Therapy

In the three weeks since I´ve decided to go biking in the morning, there were only four days that I could not, or rather, would not go because of “urgent business.” In each case, as the day went by, I found that that those urgent things not only could have waited an hour, but would have been very grateful for it.

I was surprised and then amused to find out that as the day went by, not only it was harder to find time to go biking, but that I resented the “urgent business” in question and took it out on the people involved in it. Here was I, crabby and cranky, and it was their fault too. But they hadn´t asked me to made such a sacrifice. It had been my decision, therefore it was my problem, not theirs.

This was how I empirically discovered this extra benefit of biking: besides all the known benefits to the body and to the mind, it is beneficial to my social relations. It makes me kinder, more patient, more joyful. Yes, there might be unreasonable people, unreasonable demands and unfortunate circumstances. Yes, the world might be falling apart, but I had my bike ride in the morning, and until tomorrow morning comes, that will do. All is taken care of. Life is good.

Bike Meditation

The trick was to go first thing in the morning, before the day´s worries, commitments and distractions noticed I was out of bed. The trick was to remember that no matter how important all those worries, commitments and distractions were, there´d be time for them when I got back.

At first, getting out first thing in the morning was an ordeal. It is winter in Brasilia, after all, which is not to say much, but it does add to the list of excuses for not getting out of bed to go biking in the early morning. I´d set the alarm to 7 o´clock, and at first, I´d have to hit the snooze button a few times before peeling myself out of bed, by which time I´d convince myself that it was way too late to bike. Nowadays, after biking 21 days out of 25, by the time the clock goes off I´ve got out of bed, got dressed, made and eaten breakfast, done my spiritual reading and meditation, and am waiting for the elevator (next step: start taking the stairs!).

Biking is meditation: 10.87km of meditation, to be exact. In these 40 minutes (plus or minus 3), I say the rosary of the day as I think of the day ahead and the spiritual readings of that morning. I pass by three Catholic churches evenly spaced through my route – so that´s six special moments of praise and adoration, petition and intercession, meditation and reflection, atonement and resolution, as I cross through traffic crossing myself.

I set out with questions and return with answers. I think of what I have to do, who I´m going to see, what I´m going to say, the email and the post I´m going to write, what I´m feeling and why that is so, and applying all these frustrations and desires against the pedals, I find more diplomatic ways to make my feeling known, to others and to myself.

Back in the game (3)

The idea now was continuity: to keep it simple, but to keep at it. Writing ideas visited her in torrents every day, just waiting for this kind of venue to materialize themselves, if she only gave them a chance. And if perchance they were shy, there were a number of games she could play to keep the hand moving across the page every day. How her day was. How it was looking so far. She could write biographies, her own or other people´s, real or imaginary. Heck, she could write her future biography, if she ran out of past events to talk about. The point was to keep the hand moving across the page.

As it was, this first assignment was to write 3 pages, but 5 came into existence almost of its own accord in a few minutes. And they even provoked the ressurrection of her blog, which had been active for three years. She made a note to herself to register this moment and remember how easy it was, for that days that she avoiding writing like the plague.

The idea was to move on to other things she needs to do daily and yet spends weeks without. The idea was to tackle them in the morning, before everything else, and to spend the rest of the day feeling like a heroine.

The next such task on her list was biking.

Back in the game (2)

She looked for it at a number of places, near and far. She looked at the mall and she looked at the market. She looked across the street and she looked across town. She wanted something simple and narrow, with drawers if possible, but not too many. But all she saw was considerably more expensive than what she had in mind. Especially if she couldn´t convince herself that she would actually use it.

After thinking about it for a few weeks, she thought that maybe one of the little cabinets she had in her living room was the perfect size for a “test drive.” It was small and it was narrow, pretty, but completely unpretentious. It also had already served with distinction in a variety of functions.  It was just the kind of support she needed.

Immediately prior to this current appointment, it served as a catchall counter: its function was to have ready for her whatever she needed to take when she went out, and it was always the first to greet her as she came back in. Though it´d only been out of that function for 24h hours, it was sorely missed there already. But to judge from its debut as a writing desk, excellence continued to accompanied it wherever it went. The experiment so far had been a tremendous success.

Back in the game (1)

She knew what she had to do, and yet she kept inventing other things to do first. She had created a writing corner for herself, after finding fault with all the other arrangements she´d tried before.

Yes, she did have a desk, but it was a computer desk, and it wasn´t adequate for writing by hand: it was too high, and full of other things like printers, files and cables. And for this kind of writing, she really preferred to write by hand.

She had a table, but it was a dining table. It was also a meeting table, where people gather to chat and to learn. It was an excellent table to spread papers around, but it wasn´t a good table to leave things on. It was too public.

She had even put together a traveling writing kit – a briefcase with all her writing materials, that she could take anywhere, work anywhere, and then put everything right back in. But it´d been like a month, and she´d never felt even remotely tempted to use it.

No, she wanted a proper desk, meant for writing by hand. And she wanted it in her bedroom, to keep her personal writing separate from her workspace, and all distractions it offered. Besides, she had just the perfect corner by the window, with a lovely view of the trees and of the horizon, and other things known for their poetic potential.