The Old Fool retells the First Story

Boy with feather

The Old Fool is fascinated by the Old Book we call the Bible.  Its truth intrigues him.  Here is how he imagines the origin of its first  story.  He calls the first people “First-lings” who have a custumary story time around an evening camp fire. Instead of one God, he writes of gods, for the word for God in Genesis 1:1 is Elohim, a plural noun, and the pronoun that refers to gods in the chapter is plural. The teachers are wizened ones because of their age and wisdom.  With that, the Old Fool begins the story:

Once upon an evening in the long ago the First-lings  gathered around a camp fire for story-telling time. Like children now, the children then were curious. They looked at everything around them, the trees and the birds and the bees, and the sun, moon and stars,  and asked question: Where did all this come from?  Who made this?


Like old people now, old people then loved to tell stories.  But often they were stupefied by the curiosity of the children. now they were roused by their own curiosity, for the wizened ones had been curious for all their years.  They sat on their thinking logs. Men stroked their long gray beards, and women felt their faces as if trying to smooth away the wrinkles. They imagined for a long time.  They consulted among themselves. One said, “we must tell them something.”  Another said, “we must be honest for what we say may be long remembered.”

Finally they gathered the children. They said,  “In the beginning . . .”

The curious children interrupted eagerly.  In the beginning?  When was that?

“We don’t know,” answered the wizened ones.  “No one knows,” they insisted. They attempted to continue their imagining. They said,  “In the beginning gods . . .”

Impatiently the curious children interrupted:  Gods?  Who are they?   Where do they live?

Patiently, the wizened ones replied, “We don’t know.  We don’t know any one who knows.”

Disappointed, the curious children lapsed into silence.  The patient wizened ones tried again to continue the story.  “In the beginning gods created . . .”

Now the curious children were sure they were on to something tangible and terrific.  They knew what it was to create out of clay, wood, or stones.  There seemed to be a creative bent inside of them. It was a natural trait, as natural as running, eating or climbing trees.

Excitedly they asked, “What did the gods use for building material? They must have had a big pile of stuff to begin with.”

A curious boy with his mother

Sadly, the wizened ones shook their tired heads once more.  “We don’t know” they confessed.  “We just don’t know.” Then they added  more hopefully,  “Maybe the gods made it out of nothing.”

That only made the curious children  more curious.  They quenched the dying embers of the fire before going to sleep with unquenched curiosity.  Curiosity would waken with  them in the morning and would be passed on by them from generation to generation to come.


About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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2 Responses to The Old Fool retells the First Story

  1. Betty Kelsey says:

    Beautiful, Martin. I hope the story continues at their next family fireside discussion.

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