Hurrying for a book to read whilst on the toilet (yes, I have to admit I have been known to read on the toilet), I grabbed off the shelf, and serendipitously opened up, my copy of the Bible Speaks Today commentary, The Message of Jeremiah (by Derek Kidner). I never realised it had never before been opened—having owned it for some three or more years I fought a mix of emotions: a mild embarrassed shame for having an unexplored book on my shelf but reticence to crease the binding. (Don’t you just love the smell of a new book?)
As I flicked through the pages, nervously at a subconscious level—wanting those pages to miraculously advance in their used state in becoming more weathered looking, I recognised again this tension that arose within me. It’s the cherished wonder of something brand new and also something very ‘ancient’ and weathered-looking. The in-between state’s not that special, is it? It’s like an Australian test cricketer thrilled at receiving their baggy green on day one, yet then cherishing it worn and thread-bare one hundred tests later.
All things new must eventually be de-virginised. It’s not like the souvenir we take ‘straight to the poolroom,’ complete with its plastic packaging, a la The Castle (1997).
New things have about them an attraction which is hardly real. Keeping that ‘new thing’ new is the prize of attractiveness, though it doesn’t help us much apart from the issues of vanity we innocuously glare at.
And this brings me to my main point. There’s a mystery which surrounds the origin of the new thing—we can hardly picture (with any accuracy of visual knowledge) where it came from or how it came to us.
Our own moments of origin and our very destinations are also mysteries to us. We cannot recall the day of our births; though some these days might have video footage of the event! We cannot quite grasp how our origin into the ‘other life,’ beyond this one, will eventuate—that wonderful/terrible day of our physical deaths.
Yet, in all this we have moments of origin occurring to us or around us all the time. Everything has its place as a new thing—bar one: God. He was never new. He just is. He’s always been. He always will be.
God birthed us through the physical union of a father and mother; he carried us through the womb—in much gestational anguish to the parents—and he delivered us safely into their arms. We never knew this; it simply occurred to us. (It ‘occurred’ to our parents too.)
The moment of origin is an awesome wonder shrouded in mystery.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.