God,  Life,  Love,  Theology

Grabbing, Eating, Dying

It would have been me anyway. If we made it this far in the garden, and no one had eaten the fruit. I’d be the one to walk up to that tree. Knowledge of Good and Evil would mean nothing, and I’d want to know why. I rose my hand to ask things I wasn’t supposed to ask from an early age, I might as well have grabbed some fruit while it was up there in the air.

Because the snake asked what was there already… what did God say and what did it mean? And I wonder if Adam heard it, too. Maybe even first. But his fidelity to Order, his alignment with diligent rationalism kept him from taking the Question into his hands, much less to his lips.

But Eve, baby, you were made for curiosity, formed in the chaos of a man’s desire and dusty earth and a stolen bone. Life breathed into you the courage of arriving next; not the first child bound to the rules of the house, but the second one, free and unfettered, sliding down the railing.

So of course you were the one to take a bite of the Question there already, hanging on a tree, forbidden, but not protected.

And for thousands of years you’ve borne the brunt of our wish-we-never-knew. We, your children, piled high on you the disappointments and griefs, what never should have been, we said, if mother kept her mouth shut. But the Question would have burned us up—maybe you knew that, too—and you were made to brave the fire.

We’ve called you out for a lack of faithfulness to God; for being the first to disobey, to deviate. I wonder if you knew you had such power then. God said “don’t;” how did you know you could? In a world of perfect dictates, where the lion laid with the lamb, in which everything was As It Should Be. When everything fell into perfect rhythm and unwavering tempo, how did you know there was such a thing as jazz?

Or was it faithfulness to your design which brought your hands around a new thing? Your heart beat faster with creative force, you felt—maybe for the first time in all of us—fear and excitement swirl together in that compelling dance we enjoy now at your leading. You reached up and grabbed, tingling as it gave in to your tug and snapped off the branch. It smelled different than anything else, and before you thought of what Adam would do, you bit.

And what flooded you then, my love? Maybe shame, like we’ve guessed and projected, but maybe it was joy. The fruit delicious and wild freed something in you as the juices ran down your throat. So you shared it with him, expecting him to feel the same. Maybe you thought to save a bite for God. And faithful to his design, Adam built quick fences. “Let’s hide,” he gasped, and ran, and it occurred to you for the first time that something wasn’t right. Maybe this is what Good and Evil is, you thought, and which is which?

The Question brought in more questions which exhilarated you and terrified your friend. So you waited in the bushes and while you did, an ache grew in your stomach. Adam’s worried sobs and the overwhelming newness made you feel ashamed. What is wrong with me, you thought, that I could do such harm? You understood your power now, and you wanted to give it back.

So when God came to find you, and Adam pointed a shaking finger at your naked body, instead of remaining faithful to yourself—to how the Creator formed you—you huddled up for cover and pointed at the snake.

As far as I can tell, my friend, the rest of history is God trying to get you to stand.

Maybe God said, “don’t,” and maybe he expected you to have the courage to wonder why and disobey. Sin was here—pain, death, separation—and God needed to work through those things with us, but Adam wasn’t the one to lead us. God made you for that. To take our hands and walk us across the threshold to begin this work together. You took the fruit in trust that the place God made was Good, even if you didn’t know what that meant.

And Adam is faithful, too; he lets us know when we’re out of our depth, when the railings are useful to keep us from falling off the edge of a cliff, when we need a tether to the ground so we don’t float off into space. You hit the on switch for light to flood, and he flicks it off when we need it to rest at night. God has spent history telling him to stand, too. But he gets a pass where you don’t.

I am grateful for the part of me you gave me, lovely. Brave enough to face the unknown, precocious enough to ask teachers or pastors or parents or supervisors questions grown from the seeds of your First Bite. I am learning to love this part. She turns my gardens into deserts sometimes, but she’s faithful.

And when I am tempted to hide, I am learning to redeem what has been lost for you, beloved. You didn’t invite the darkness, you welcomed the awareness of it. As history unfolded, we needed a source to our pain, and we chose you, missing the courage it took to stand tall and vulnerable, to reach high and grab, to pull down and bite.

So thank you, Mother of Us. I hope now when you eat fruit you stay upright.

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