In Transition

First in the series Breathing Life

Phrases at the beginning of Genesis 2 help identify a transition in the narrative. Here’s one of them:

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,… – Genesis 2:4

Generations‘ conveys the meaning of a timeline from beginning to end. The same word/phrase is used in passages that list family genealogies. It tells me the creation account in Genesis 1 is in sequence. And, like reading a family tree, it’s the condensed version! Chapter 1 was the context-setter for chapter 2. It’s like the Star Wars crawl, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far way” before the explanation about the civil war going on.

…And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. – Genesis 2:5-6

Not only is the narrative transitioning, this explains how the creation transitioned, as well. No humans were prepping the earth to grow plant life, so the Creator steps in with a mist in the interim to make sure there is moisture and aeration. Until all things were created, the cyclical, cause-and-effect process of life was not complete, so it was helped along supernaturally until the point that it was all present and able to work as the autonomous machine I see today.

I tend to want to believe the laws of nature were always in place, and, yet, I accept that the same laws are breaking down – that this earth is slowing down and tearing down and losing its efficiency. Why is it so much easier for me to accept the earth’s future trajectory than it is to accept the launching Force at the point of origin?alley-ball-bowl

Recap: Genesis 2 identifies Genesis 1 as the prologue.

I’ve read many prologues. Some have no intention of setting the context or telling me what’s going on. Some are confusing and require a great deal of non-linear thinking and patience. The purpose of Genesis 1 is not to frustrate the reader, who is there to receive information. Maybe that’s why it starts at the beginning and goes in sequence.  Maybe the Genesis account aids one in basic critical thinking. A sort of primer.

*Featured image by Keriography. Used by Permission.

Life: A Lasting Impression

Should first impressions be called ‘impressions’? Aren’t they more like labels or stamps? People talk about how the most beautiful people they’ve ever known seemed rather plain or even ugly at first. Or how someone’s beauty faded once the ugly mind behind the dazzling looks surfaced.

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Photo by Keriography. Used by permission.

What about the first impression the world makes on us? Babies are born into it screaming and flailing, not knowing what to expect. We all forget those first moments – again, not much of an impression.

In the teenage years, the world morphs into a network of emotional pressures and unspoken behaviors that sends us into a tailspin. I remember wanting to lock myself in my room and stay there…for the rest of my life. But, over time, the beauty underneath the crazy, equilibrium-shattering mess unfolded.

There’s something incredibly alive and regenerative hidden under the scars and disasters of our world, our experiences, and our lives. The older I get the more I understand why it’s a blessing to live a long life, to let living make a lasting impression instead of a knee-jerk reaction to the ugliness.

And there is ugliness. It’s not negative to admit it. How can I reach for and focus on the beautiful things if I refuse to admit there are ugly things in life, things I want to get away from so I can thrive? So I can live.

The series I’m working on, Breathing Life, sparked some of these thoughts. The first post in the series is coming next week. I hope you’ll join me in rediscovering Adam’s world.

Cattle, Beast, and Creeping Thing – Genesis 1:24-26

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Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

Five days have passed. The Earth has been set in motion, primed with the perfect, life-giving conditions. The seas and skies are teeming with large and small creatures, so God focuses on land.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

gorilla
Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

Three words cover every land animal. Cattle describes livestock and wild animals both. It is used for large animals and is translated in other passages as ‘beast.’ Creeping thing is a different word than the word for moving thing from the fifth day. It can mean sea creatures in other passages, but, here, it is modified by the description “of the earth.” It expresses the idea of animals low to the ground, such as reptiles, rodents, and land insects. Beast is the last category, which means “living thing.” This word is used twice in this verse because it is the same word translated “living creature” at the beginning. It can refer to all animals and is modified by “of the earth.” So, God includes every large and small land animal.

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

God makes the land animals and establishes the laws of procreation, just like He established for the water and sky animals: they can only reproduce their kind. The first animals in their pristine form must have had a great amount of genetic diversity that gave them the ability to reproduce so many varieties within their species. Research shows many have died out. I’m glad to know dogs won’t start giving birth to pigs. It would get really tiresome trying to find owners for a litter of pigs when I expected to have pugs.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

God is showing me His premeditation, His planning. He is going to create a creature—man—that will be unlike the creatures previously made. The emphasis is on man’s similarity to the Creator. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Man is like God in a way that the sea creatures, winged fowl, and animals of the land are not.

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Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

God gives mankind the rule over every other creature He has made, and He gets specific about this by citing the habitats of these creatures—they live in the sea, in the sky, and on the earth. So, man is established as the dominant creation by the Creator’s command, not by his own decision.

This short verse also reveals more information about God. God refers to Himself in the plural. “Let us make…in our image,” He says. He doesn’t explain who “us” is in this verse. Looking back in the previous verses, I can only note that He spoke of Himself in the beginning verses as “the Spirit of God.” So, the Spirit of God is present during creation, and this is the only clue I gather from the chapter about my Creator’s use of “us.” For me, an avid reader, this is the sort of thing I would make a note of. It stands out as a clue that I will want to keep in mind as I continue reading.

God made all the land creatures and established their procreation laws.
He called them good.
God, plural, plans the creation of man and man’s authority over creatures of the planet.

The sixth day isn’t over yet. I’ll read about the creation of man next. Right now, I’m wondering about the dinosaurs. When the animals of the sea and land were made, wouldn’t the largest beasts—those terrible lizards—have been created as well?

Here are two dino-sized descriptions I found from the Bible:

Behemoth – This beast seems to have been a land animal. He could use his tail like the trunk of a cedar tree, he ate grass, and the strength of his frame was compared to bronze and iron.

The sea serpent, Leviathan, is mentioned in 4 places: Job 41, Psalm 74, Psalm 104, and Isaiah 27. God uses sarcasm to discuss the strength of Leviathan. He says (and I’m paraphrasing), “Can you reel in Leviathan with a fishhook? Will he beg you to let him go? Will you take him for a pet?” This sarcasm is made clear when God says later, “Lay your hand on him; Remember the battle; you will not do it again!”

What do you think these animals were?

The feature image is mine. Notice he was smiling for the picture.

 

 

 

 

Endless Love

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the sky of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And ev’ry man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho’ stretched from sky to sky.

-Fredrick Martin Lehman, 1917

These lines by Lehman capture my imagination. It’s an incredible analogy–the thought of a sky being a writing pad, the ocean the ink, and the fields filled with quills that, used to their immense capacity, cannot touch the hem of God’s love.

John gave a similar statement at the end of his eyewitness account of Jesus’ life on earth when he wrote, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25). Is John writing in hyperbole? Whether he is or not, his sentiments express the point that God’s Son did so much for us while He was on this earth. And wasn’t God’s greatest act of love sending Jesus?

The magnitude of God’s care and devotion is fathomless, just as His mind and His ways are so far above me. How can I return so great a love? I can’t, but I can open my arms to His love. I can open my mind to His thoughts, which He has had written down for me. His Word has been preserved through generations so that I get to rediscover His plan from the beginning. I can open my heart to His wisdom and His instruction, knowing that He will teach me to walk in His ways. It is no hyperbole to say it will take an eternity to fathom the perfection of His love. Lehman’s lyrics help the writer in me better contemplate that truth.

Bubble Trouble

Do you writers ever find yourself stymied by having to do things just so to get the creativity flowing? The ritual must be performed, or you end up not writing at all? My desk has this powerful, just so aura around it. (I posted a tribute of sorts to my desk in all its unsorted glory called Desktopsy.) My characters surge to the forefront of my antsy brain when I sit down in my cushy desk chair. (I wrote about my chair, too. Twice. I’m beginning to see a pattern in my blog topic choices.) When I take my place in front of my desk, I enter the word crafter’s bubble, invisible to the naked eye… and probably to the clothed eye, as well.

The boundaries of this bubble must not be breached for any reason. If the house is on fire, save yourselves! My mind is afire and must not be interrupted! For this reason I’m thinking of wearing pajamas every time I write. Just in case. They are all made of flame-retardant material now, which might come in handy. (It sure doesn’t do a bit of good for sleeping. My kids have not combusted yet, fortunately, but they do wake up sweaty and smelly in their flame-retardant jammies.)

Rituals are good and all, but this desk dependence needs adjusting. I want to take my bubble with me. It should be the slave of my quill, not the master. So, my friends, I’ve done the impossible. I am, presently, not writing at my desk. I’m writing in bed. Yes, I’m onto something here. I’m on my bed. (Ugh.) You see, I knew I’d have to spoil myself to make any true change. My Pandora RillaWriter station is playing through my ear buds, and it’s time to immerse myself in the enchanted world of King Draill and Lady Esda. I’ll let you know how it goes.

P.S. My deepest sympathies go out to all of the flame-retardant-jammied children. My legs are already feeling moist in these sticky pajama pants. 😦

Fall and Sour Grapes

I was seven years old and fighting to breathe. It was Halloween day. I lay on my bed, squirming and twisting, trying to find a position that would relieve the rock in my chest. Mom’s eyes showed her concern. I knew something was wrong, but I was too tired to ask what.

She took me to the doctor’s office, where they gave me a shot in my upper arm. For I moment, my lungs relaxed and I breathed freely. It lasted only a minute or two and my lungs became lead again, inflexible and heavy. They stuck me in the other arm. Nothing happened.

I stayed in the hospital for a week. That was the year I didn’t get to be Sour Grapes, the fancy, purple villain from Strawberry Shortcake. I missed trick-or-treating altogether. I had been so, so excited. In the top drawer of the hospital bedside table were a few pieces of Halloween candy someone had brought for me.

Every Halloween finds me sick. As a child, there were years I’d wheeze my way down the street to knock doors anyway. Hay rides were the asthma attack waiting to happen.

When fall comes, I breathe in the magic and forget. I forget about the disappointment of years before. My brain has this switch that only the smell of fall can activate. Story ideas grow like kudzu vines, latching onto my thoughts, tempting me to drop the work I’m doing and join them in the jungle of my imagination. I begin to scheme: How can I get away to write? I need a few hours for this story and a couple of hours to complete that one…

But the sniffling and the coughing start. I wake up nights, stuffed up and aching in my face. I can’t look at a computer screen; the light is too harsh, the letters too blurry. The throb behind my eyes won’t go away.

Fall allergies; I didn’t want to pass this down to my kids. They wheeze, sniffle, and cough. They pull themselves out of bed like they’re leaving a vat of molasses.

The humidifiers and essential oils are out. My house smells like cinnamon, cloves, lemon, and eucalyptus. At least, I hope that’s what it smells like—I can’t smell anything! There’s a tissue box in every room. Hot peppermint tea soothes swollen throats.

And I can’t think. I can’t focus. It’s like all of this mucus has stuffed up my brain and shoved out the lovely ideas and creativity.

So, I guess I’ll cross my arms and tell you fall isn’t all that great anyway. Who cares that the leaves are gorgeous, the weather is splendid, and Halloween is just around the corner?

Feeling Pumpkin-Headed? (Pumpkin and Image By C Tennie [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
I’m not fooling you, am I?

Heads Up! I NEED Your Vote!

My heart is racing. I want to throw up my hands and scream like the crazy woman I am.

My short story, “Sara’s Whistle,” has been shortlisted! It’s been accepted by the judges to compete for first prize in MASH magazine’s quarterly competition!

You guys, this is my first contest. And I need your support. I need your vote.

MASH magazine asks its readers weigh in on which story they like best. (Of course it’s mine. Do you even need to read the others?) These are 500-word stories. You will not be reading my magnum opus here. It’s quick; it’s painless.

Your vote means I have a chance of winning! That’s kinda fun, right? When I become a famous authoress, you can say, “I supported Rilla in her first short story contest. Yeah, I knew talent when I saw it, even back then.”

You’ll like my story! Read and vote on it here.

In case you missed the link, you can vote for my story here.

If you want me to quit begging, vote here: http://mashstories.com/shortlist/saras-whistle-rilla-zerbert/.