Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. There’s this naked lady living in a garden with her boyfriend, also naked. A talking snake tells her to eat an apple, so she does, and things go downhill fast. The God of the garden knows they’ve been bad, so they lie about it, blame each other, and get kicked out. Not just kicked out, but cursed for eternity with hard work and pain in child birth. They’ve been bad indeed. So bad that we are bad because of it. At least, that’s one way to tell it. It probably won’t surprise anyone if I choose to tell it another way.
My way goes like this. To me, there is a sense of inevitability to the story. The all-knowing, all-powerful God puts in the garden the one thing that can ruin everything. Not hidden away in a dark corner or even hidden in plain sight, like the keys you don’t see on the entry table. It is specifically highlighted, desire enhanced by its prominence and prohibition. So when things are ruined, why is God angry, or even surprised?
There’s also something about sex here. In the Hebrew, let’s just say that is one sexy tree. The woman really wants it. And when she gets it, she gets it. Suddenly, she and the man are sexually aware. They grow up. They suddenly find that life is not simply handed to them. We can’t just pluck dinner off a tree. Our laundry doesn’t magically get done. They didn’t even have laundry before that day! And, yes, of course, someday they will die. The illusion of the garden passes away and, faced with this new reality, they get busy. In the biblical sense. Busy makin’ babies. A little bit of death, but so much life.
This is an incredibly rich story with many more possible ways to read it – it might be about farming! – but this time I want to focus on our theme: change. As I’m reading it here, this is a coming-of-age narrative. Life for the two humans is changing, perhaps in some ways that they could have expected, and certainly in some ways they did not – as it always does. Even when we fully expect a change to come – even if we welcome or seek that change – it is often hard to account for the enormity of it. It can feel overwhelming, like something is being lost that we can never get back. But, oh, how we will try.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at the Kessler, as we continue to talk about change, movement, and return. If you’re going through a change, it can feel like a little death. Come and see the life on the other side.
Grace and Peace,