The World Would Be Too Small
You were so frustrated that day,
and so were we. Our hands were sore, our backs
ached, ‘Certainly it is accomplished’, we moaned.
It must be done. All had been said and
We were expecting your nod, a shuffle of the
eyebrows, a silence followed by one of your multiple
affirmations: ‘yes, yes, yes, yes…
But no! You were insistent,
silently and stubbornly insistent. You
stood, arms stretched like wings, as if you were
landing on a high crag.
We sat, waiting for your dictation to begin. For the
words to flow.
In front of us your witness.
‘The testimony of John,’ it began. But
this was Baptist John, not Writer John. It was his and yours
but not yet fully yours.
‘I must give more’ you said, ‘one more grain of truth’. Then
the silence fell again, like mist on a mountain top.
You swirled within it. You
champed and growled. You
walked in circles. You
ground your teeth. You
lost all sense of us with you.
You were struggling within, wrestling with some
unseen angel, some cruel angel
who gave you vision and desire
but no words. The word-angel had
departed, it seemed, leaving only
a deep demented clucking, a pre-verbal babbling. Your winged tongue was
earth-bound at last.
We both shed a tear as we recalled the
eagle you truly are, those soaring flights
we had witnessed and recorded. That majestic control and supernal
synthesis that left you so deeply
drained. It was your death we anticipated that day.
We feared for your eternal silence.
When the first words
formed, we missed them. We failed to write.
‘In the beginning,’ you repeated.
‘Genesis,’ we thought. This could be a long day.
‘In the beginning,’ you repeated again. ‘In the beginning was the
We caught each other’s eye, and started to write.
And you continued, arms still extended, ‘and the
word was with God, and the word was
And so you
flowed, and so we
wrote, we wrote, we
wrote, ‘the word became
flesh and dwelt among us’.
When you had finished, you let your arms
drop. You stood for a while and then sat. There were three of us,
sitting with your words.
After a while you began
to chuckle. ‘The end! The end!’ you
said. ‘No! No!’ we protested.
‘Add this to the end,’
you insisted, still chuckling. ‘Add this:
“If all was written, the world would be too
small for the books”.
Then you opened your arms wider than ever and
roared with laughter till the tears
drenched your straggly old beard. You
stood up, rather grandly as I recall, arms still outstretched,
‘The world would be too small. The world would be too small.
Yes, yes, the world would be too small. Yes, yes, yes, yes….
and yes! The world would be too