Trembling

A few weeks ago I sent an email to Laura telling her that I had just finished copying the last verse of the Old Testament. She shot right back with a reply asking me of my thoughts. My answer, after a long confusing pause, was: “No thoughts – just trembling.”

I think I was expecting to feel the pride of some kind of accomplishment at this milestone along the way. After all, the New Testament and all that goes with it still looms ahead, though it is hardly as daunting. Some other part of me expected to feel relief when I was finally faced with the completion of this lengthy text. However, the ride through those ancient chapters, from Genesis to Second Maccabees, was often as hair-raising as it was exhilarating – and I find myself forever changed.

Yes. I was often horrified by the amount of blood, by the illicit sex between people that you might have thought would know better, and always by the questionable petulance and rage of the deity. Be that as it may, these writings have transported me to the extent of the known universe, and at times beyond on the simple strength of queries that were raised inside of me. The place where my body stands for a breathtaking moment, in this dizzily spinning galaxy, affirms that I am but a mote, smaller than the most infinite nothing. Yet I am large to myself as I breathe. My heart beats. I love, and I am loved. I am the ruler of the soil beneath my feet, but only until, as the decades pass, I shall be left behind as an unremarkable heap of dust.

The passages of the Old Testament I find to be rich and many. Some have just called them nonsense. Entire philosophies have sprung up based upon such notions. However, when is a judgment an absolute? For me, each new page was a discovery of largely questions. At the last, I have to ask myself if there were really ever any answers. Even with all that is known, unearthed, and translated, scholars still hunger for more answers. From the perspective of a man who has written all the words of every chapter in the Old Testament, I am left wondering in the midst of my thoughts if perhaps trembling is the answer.

As published in the July/August 2012 issue of "St. Peter's Press," the monthly newsletter of St. Peter's Presbyterian Church in Spencertown, New York. At the time of publication, Phillip had just finished writing the Old Testament and was beginning the New Testament.