The Word was God

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

I am seven and a half years old.  On Christmas morning, after a flurry of gifts, and cookies for breakfast, my mother and I go to 9:30 Mass.  We leave behind my brother, who’s only three and doesn’t have to go to church every time, and my father, who’s not yet Catholic, and a boy named Roger, who is fourteen.  He is a foster child and I am supposed to call him my brother. He terrifies me. 

I wear my best dress, and the tights I hate but my mother loves, and my black shiny shoes I adore.  It’s a special day, because our brand-new church is open for the very first time, and when I skip inside it seems vast and magical, candle-lit, glowing.  The pattern in the carpet looks like puzzle pieces.  I tap my shoes against it.  The overhead lights reflect off the patent leather.  I am happy to have left behind the tree and the presents and half my family, happy to be in this sacred place with my mother, alone.  And I am only ever safe in Roger’s absence.

In the beginning was the Word.

I don’t always listen to the Gospel.  I am only seven.  I’ve made my First Communion and I am supposed to listen, but the second reading–Paul’s epistle–never makes a lick of sense to me, so I tend to drift off.  I make a tent with my fingertips.  Here is the church, here is the steeple.  Open the doors, and see all the people.

In the beginning was the Word.

It startles me.  In the beginning was the Word?  The Word?  In the beginning God created light from the darkness.  I know my creation story.  But Word?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.

Now I’m pushed backward against the pew, eyes wide, mouth agape.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Understand that my life, happy on the surface, was filled with darkness. Horrible secrets threatened my soul. I escaped into books. I read constantly. I pulled my entire self into fictional worlds in order to survive.

In the beginning was the Word.

Words were the only thing I trusted. Not words spoken out loud, but words on the page.

And the Word was with God.

I might be okay, then. I might have latched onto something true.

And the Word was God.

It was like a great wave of light pouring over me.

In the beginning there were stories, and the stories were with God, and the stories were God.

If I could count on stories, I could count on God.

God could make the darkness light.

I was not alone

3 thoughts on “The Word was God

  1. This is so wonderful.

    I have just put this reading back into the Carol Service in one of the village churches — from which I think it had been purged because they have children do most of the readings, and I suspect it was deemed too grown-up. I was ready to defend in on the ground that poetry enters the soul long before we understand it — but now, you have given me a story they will understand.

    Thank you.

  2. Your story took me back to my non-religious childhood, going to church by chance and finding a sense of security in that very reading. Thank you. Like Rosemary, I say more, please!

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