Casting Out Eden

The story of Adam, Eve, and Eden from the first three chapters of Genesis from the Hebrew Scriptures is, first and foremost, a story for the ages.  It's a story that is for every time, every history. 

What I mean by this is that it's one of many stories from the Bible that, while it ought not to be believed to be literally true, should be taken literally in its meaning and overall purpose. 

To do otherwise cheapens the story, in my opinion.  

Even St. Augustine believed that to assume that these first chapters in Genesis were a blueprint for how all things came into being was a disservice to the Gospel.  

He essentially believed it was a metaphor, a universal truth that instructed human beings on what life was like when it's lived outside of a relationship with God. 

In other words, this story is our story.  Every day we have an opportunity to choose new life and abundance over a life of scarcity, which comes from believing we know best how to live our lives on our own terms. 

Recently, I read a beautiful and challenging passage from a book by John Koenig, which took on the story of Eden from a unique perspective.  In Koenig's opinion, humans weren't cast out of Eden; they cast out Eden from themselves:  

We need to believe in the fall from Eden.  We need to believe that we corrupted a place that had always been pure.  But maybe all along, we had the story backward.  Maybe we were the ones who cast out the jungle, who stripped it naked, and tried to teach it good and evil, breaking it down into pieces that served a purpose.  We couldn't handle the true state of nature--the overwhelming chaos, the corruption and the mutations, the fluidity of interconnections and the fecundity of the soil, where nothing is pure, where life and death are intertwined.  So we decided to turn away, barricading ourselves in a walled garden. 

Koenig paints a picture of the world as a place created with all the beauty of chaos and the potential for change.  It is wild, fluid, and imbued with the eternal rhythm of dying and rising. 

And this has always been too much for us.  Like Adam and Eve, we think we can tame Creation (and God) and bend it to our will.  And in so doing, we wall ourselves apart from Eden and God's purposes and desires for us.

We also do this in our own lives when we believe that we can control our outcomes and be masters of our respective fates.  When we do this, we want to become gods instead of surrendering our lives to God.  

But when we surrender to the universal rhythms of dying and rising in Creation, we draw closer to God, and the walls we created fall away to reveal the true meaning of Eden, which is a recognition of the Divine imprint not only in Creation but also within us. 

May this recognition be clear to you today and every day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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