Genesis 1.0

In the beginning, it was a two-day job, three at the outside; but you know how it is with construction. The original design was simple—light and dark, stars and rocks—very Zen, but things changed.

The specs said the site was without form and void, but when we arrived, there was water everywhere—abysmal water. Usually, you just rig up a couple of pumps and suck it out, but where could we discharge? In the end, some things you just have to live with.

And it was dark, so the first thing was to get some light in there. Simplest thing in the world, right? Who knew that darkness would be sticky? It took a whole day to divide the darkness from the light. From that point on, we were behind schedule.

Same thing the next day—here’s the spec: "let there be a firmament." Remember the waters of the deep? "Deep" doesn’t come close. It took evening and morning of the second day just to divide the waters from the firmament. We didn’t get to dividing the waters above from the waters below, and get everything sealed until the morning of the third day. By that time, the budget was in the dumpster. (Yeah, I know there was a problem with the drains backing up—we had to redo the whole thing when Noah filed his claim.)

At that point we discovered erosion. No sooner had we gathered the waters together into seas and the land into the Earth, than it started slipping away. First, it was the waves lapping at the edges of the land; next it was the rain; then bang! there were rivers carrying a load of silt you would not believe. This is classic project-creep and we had to make something up on the spot. I admit it was a kludge, but grasses, herbs, and trees worked out well. At the end of the third day, I looked it over and it was good.

Day four, we got back to darkness and light. Just separating them didn’t really work well—darkness was constantly spilling into places we didn’t want it. Besides that, the shade plants weren’t doing well. The answer was to set two lights in the heavens: one for the day and one for the night. Oh! and stars, too; we almost forgot the stars. It was good and I thought we were done.

Early on the fifth day (this was going to be a day of rest), I could see things weren’t going to be that simple. The algae alone were enough to make you cry—the plants were out of control. Another kludge—animals to eat the plants: whales and fishes in the seas, winged fowls in the air. It took a whole day, but it looked really good.

Day six, we finished the job: beasts of the Earth, cattle, creeping things—the whole lot. It was a little rushed; but then, every job is when you’re close to the end.

Now remember, there was no maintenance specified in the contract. I guess it was all supposed to take care of itself, but you know where that leads—endless murmurings and costly fixes. To stave that off, I threw in a couple of caretakers. They should be able to handle any problems that come up.

And it was very good.

Paul Buckley

Paul Buckley, a Quaker historian and theologian, is a member of Clear Creek Meeting in Richmond, Ind., and attends North Meadow Circle of Friends in Indianapolis, Ind.