The Word; or, On the Significance of the Smallest Moment

By Will Watson / August 2017

Note: I encourage you to read John 1.1-18 in the Common English Bible by clicking here before reading this post.

I sit, calves to feet dangling in the rain-cooled pool water. I am melancholy beneath oakshade, staring into the clear, motionless liquid. A white speck pulls my gaze toward the pool floor, no thoughts other than the existential dread of things to do later. Assignments, responsibilities, more to do later.

Our son splashes in, rippling the surface. My white speck dances now. I follow it, trying to calculate how far its light shifts around in bent patterns, but then the interrupting shadow of a little whirlpool slides across the speck. Round and black against the blue pool bottom, twisting sunlight around its edge as it spins, twisting the color of the speck at its edge as it spins.

I think of the black swirl, round, bending light, as a micro-cosmic metaphor for a black hole, just on the smallest, flattest scale. I remember reading about the death of stars in a college astronomy class, how some become massive and infinite at the end of their days, becoming black holes,  powerhouses of rotating galaxies, shifting and expanding time near their horizons and allowing no light to escape—and note, nothing is faster than light—and such are locations where even light cannot overcome darkness.

Then the black swirl vanishes. I still see my speck at the blue bottom of the pool. My wife and I talk as our son bobs in and out of the shallows.

I need to write something.

What about?

I don’t know yet.

Write about being a day late and a dollar short.

Lol.

No really, you could since you’re a day late with your blog.

And broke?

Lol yes exactly.

You realize one day there will be one about black holes.

And I’m just sure I will enjoy it.

Lol. Thery’re important! They power the universe.

We watch him bob around, giggling, knocking toys into the water, and we sip coffee, his ripples pushing against our legs here, then pulling to open water, then back against us, echoing.

I think of these ripples, and on a grander scale they, too, are a metaphor. “In the beginning was the Word.” History and philosophy lesson here: the ‘Word’ in the ancient Greek world: the Word is the spoken-before-time all, the underlying, subsurface force that reaches beyond galaxies and universes, telling them to obey natural laws (the Word is the unwritten Law of Nature, preeminent, yet obedient to no law but its self), and tethering planets to stars, dirt particles to one another, gasses to one another as orbs-in-freefall and orbit, expanding and gravitational. The Word, which unfolds itself as a seed unfolds, producing matter, and the earth and the sun and the stars are the product of this unfolding. Like a passion flower unfolding so does the Word open forth a furious beauty, nature, grace, water, sky, and sand within its blossom. The Word, from which all unfolds and to which all is gathered in. The Word, sending its creative waves pulsing through the open chasm of space and time, across hay field and comet and dark matter, birthing green life and rogue beauty in its wake, reaching the eternal end and echoing back, carrying along the striped tails of its own beauty back into itself. Unfolding, and gathering. The Word: all at once whispered, sung, screamed, spoken at the brink of the first dawn.

The ripples subside, and my wife and son are somewhere else around the pool, and I am still seated on the ledge, legs dangling in the translucent blue. A man I didn’t know introduces himself to us. He is friendly, and he reminds me of some archetypical scene where friends are gathered around a table with bread and drink, all laughing. He comments on my son’s name, says it’s “a kicka** name!” and rightly notes that we will have to dig deep to find a name better than that. I chuckle at this truth. He has a good name.

Here in this log of events I have watched the shadow of a whirlpool expand itself into a dying star, which becomes a supermassive black hole, stronger than the speed of light itself, powering galaxies. I have watched the ripples of our son’s splashing echoing into the moment after the beginning of all things, when the Word was spoken and violently unfolded across emptiness in its fertile creativity, and returning and carrying its beauty back into itself in the green whir of light and heat, pounding and laughing and raining forth the bright energy of the most ancient words, pounding the wild tribal drums in the celebration of a new creation, something grand and good, something that causes gods and angels to dance and laugh and make merry, an explosion of fire and day in rogue disorder, but gravitating into itself and ordering itself into its own happy work of art. And then…

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

…………………A heaved pause…………………The grandeur of the creation in the Word’s wake pauses…….still……. The black holes pause their spinning, surprised by this, and the universe pauses its expanding, equally surprised, and the Word even pauses at itself, stops unfolding, stops gathering, stops sifting beneath the universe and ordering it……. It all pauses, silence…….

…………………Then it starts again, whirling free and funneling downward into the brightest array of light and wonder, more powerful than a black hole’s grip, creative and wondrous, falling to some deserted point against a sea in the Near East, flooding into Mary of Nazareth’s young womb—the creative all, the undergirding law, the spoken and sung creative force behind the black of space and the march of time: here it has become he. Human. The dwelling place of God is with man.

“And we have seen his glory… from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

I hear this booming whisper in my ears as I sit, yoked to the moment. And I finally see: a white speck, a black swirl in the water, the ripples my son has caused, a conversation about a blog, and a friendly person connected me to a cosmic event and its long, drawn, yawning source: the Word, which defied all nature and needled itself into the form of a human being.

And suddenly my small, melancholy moment has become full and intrinsically significant.


The original is always better. Click here to see my notes for “The Word”.

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For this blog to be true, I had to do a bit of legwork. If you’re a student of New Testament Greek and want an aid that can exhaust the theological significance of Greek words, I suggest the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (10 Volume Set). You can order it here.