These three small paragraphs convey so much. More poetic than precise they tell of how we came into being. They are a close up look at our earliest relationship with YH*WH, the creator God. “As it was in the beginning, is now and will be for ever. Amen”, we pray. I close my eyes. I breathe in. I breathe out.
I consider the aliveness of my breath and how it connects me to my body and soul; I imagine the generous abundance all around me that is the Garden of Eden. Somewhere among so many trees are two – the tree of life; and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We are commanded to not eat of the latter or we will die. I breathe in and out. I try to be as unencumbered and open in the presence of God as Adam and Eve were so long ago. The Genesis 2 narrative ends before choices are made and everything changes forever. I find something calm and reassuring about this moment.
However, I am distracted by the story whose ending I know, but is not part of this one. As I return to breathing in real time I find myself thinking about the road not taken. There was, after all, another choice – the tree of life. There it stands with its companion, the tree of death, right in the center of things. To not eat fruit of the tree of knowledge is to obey the commandment. It is to choose (the tree of) Life. It is to turn toward the opportunity to enter into a deeper relationship with God. Perhaps that is a better way to think about paradise. I believe the offer still stands. Forgiven our transgressions through the life and death of Christ we are always at the beginning. The commandments are clearer than ever: Love God with all your heart, soul and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself”. We have only to choose. I keep thinking of the words of the poet William Wadsworth as I write this:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Lancey Saunders Clough