Life is a precious thing. It is common to refer to life as a gift.But for it to be a gift there has to be a Giver. If there is no Giver, then seeing meaning of living life for the next day and intrinsic value to that life, particularly human, is difficult to say the least. People in this modern age get lost on the details of the story of creation particularly on Adam and Eve on whether it was literal days or an instant.
Though I tend to lean from my background to Adam being created in an instant, what is most important is that breath of life that made him fully in God’s image. Adam was breathed into with a spirit, had the identity of soul and was in a human vessel. But that crucial piece of the spirit came by the Holy Spirit’s work that no longer hovered but entered to animate. Pagan philosophers would say about an Unknown God that “In Him we live, and move and have our being.” Keep this in mind when you peek closer at this narrative.
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6 but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the Tree of Life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Since we can see the Genesis story of creation as a story of beginnings, plural, we should remember from the prior days that water speaks of grace and the land speaks of unity and self-giving in making life continue.
then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
With those elements combined for the body of humankind the message is that all three of these values are inherently emphasized for the purpose of humankind in giving glory to the Creator. With those elements combined in a content without sin, the Holy Spirit can do a work that is powerful yet intimate.
every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food,
If we blink, we miss the message of beauty and sustenance and their respective purposes but I had an experience that taught me how they can always work in the human condition. I am a counselor in a substance abuse residential treatment facility. It is not a Christian based organization and in that setting it was my turn to facilitate a discussion on spirituality and recovery. I was asked in that session how someone can utilize spirituality and the “Higher Power” used in 12 Step language when they are not so keen on any specific Being.
I responded to the client that this is a hard question but a fair one and took my best shot. I told her a story I heard from a mentor who was a pastor and held a Masters in Addiction Counseling who affirmed the Good News of Beethoven. His client was not wanting to connect in any remote understanding of a Higher Power but loved listening to Beethoven. He could listen for hours to the symphonies and it would carry him past his cravings. The point I made is that the nature of beauty as we perceive it has a power of lifting ones soul and mindset above a realm of monotony and reinforces a sense of gratitude and mindfulness.
We know that the story does not end well in this garden. But if it had ended better it would be in part because they continued to be thankful for the good trees, keeping in mind of the good will of the Creator and let them be inspired to consume from the Tree of Life. It could said in our hindsight, if we have received the wholeness of the news of Jesus, that they could have eventually partaken of the The Tree by the inspiration of the trees. It was “in the midst of the garden” in a similar beauty that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). There are always signposts to the right path if we open our eyes.
So here we have another beginning: a choice.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
So in that choice is life and death. Sometimes I tell my clients that they can see recovery as being ones who could potentially conquer the world but not meant to touch a dozen, deserted island north of Russia. When I say that, I think often that my description is like Adam and Eve’s choice. They had a way to go that was different than sin. It was progressive by implication and vast in scope. In this age we have so many aspects of God to partake of in the sacraments, the scripture, loving communities (if we look intentionally). They all of dimensions that connect us in the spirit, soul and body. Will we come to see the way out of sin as “pleasant to the sight and good for food”? Therein lies the journey.