Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) Young Adult Essay Contest Winner (2019)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I am a story-teller at heart. I recall with fondness memories from childhood curled up under my blankets as my mom or dad read me a bedtime story. All the good stories would begin the same, grand declarations such as: “Once upon a time…” or “Long ago in a land far, far away…” prepared me for the vastness of another world that I was being invited to enter into. As much as I loved these fictional stories, the opening words of John’s gospel invite me to enter into a world that exists in reality. The bold statement: “In the beginning,” draws me into the very foundations not only of our world, but of the reality of the relational nature of the divine life: a reality that defines not only God’s Trinitarian life, but my own life as a creature made in his image.
While I don’t remember the particular moment when I first read this verse, the rippling impact of how it has shaped my path in becoming an English major stays with me always. I am captivated by how “the beginning”, out of all things, is defined first as “the Word.” And the Word is not something intangible, without life or substance, but the active and living Word (Christ) being not only with God but God himself. This relational image of the Word and God and how they are both separate and the same, constantly challenges me to live in loving relationships with all people in my life, regardless of how different they may seem from me. I am also reminded that because “all things came to be through him” we, as human persons, are forever intricately connected to a God who is by nature, relational.
Thus, as I prepare to graduate this June with an English degree and plans to pursue a career in Christian writing, I am reminded of God, author of the truest word who breathes life into creation – the “light of which is the human race”, and God as the summit and source of what it means to be fully relational. Whenever I read this verse, I am inspired to write with words that can shine into places of darkness to bring people together, pointing always back to the greatest of all words: God himself.