Ever heard the echoes of Eden? That place of perfection where peace reigns? Not actually sounds, more like the absence of them. As if you are one with the universe, suddenly all things feel connected to everything else. A complete whole with you exactly where you should be.
During the many years I lived far away from God and His Laws, I considered the Bible fantasy. The stuff of fairy tales. Pretending that I’d not sensed the echoes of Eden, had not stood alone in a wintry ski trail in awe of an immensity of being that I could touch. Almost. And yet there were echoes of something lost. Recognizable only through fleeting shadows in conversation with a man or with an animal. Shadows which reflected something precious and compelling. Over time, that sense of loss intensified and became a search, specific and deliberate.
Taught Catholicism by Benedictine Monks, I assimilated the beliefs of St. Benedictine’s Abbey: The Bible is the Word of God. None is allegory nor myth but instead is wholly inspired by the Holy Spirit. Including, Genesis, Adam, Eve, Eden and the Serpent.
In the now twenty years of belonging to the Catholic faith, I remain surprised by the numbers of devoutly Catholic friends, priests and theologians who consider my former attitudes toward much of the Old Testament as right. Eden, Adam and Eve, the Creation stories are myths or allegories. When asked if they ever feel anything like echoes of Eden, they smile politely and change the subject.
“Do you ever think about Eden- as in the Garden, the Tree and Adam and Eve? Because you know it was real?”
Encouraged by the animated, interested facial expression and nod of agreement from my listener, I continued. “That there was such a place makes total sense to me. A state where words were superfluous, where we knew what animals were thinking, where He walked with us during the ‘breezy time of day.’ And where each of us knew where we belong? And where we’re headed?
“Each time I read about Eve, her decision to eat the fruit, offer it to Adam and read those words, ‘Yet your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.’ I see me doing that. Me beguiled by the beauty of the tree or fruit. Me being the disobedient one.”
I was talking to my friend Rebecca. Brought up as an Evangelical Protestant Rebecca considers the Bible as His Word. I was curious to see how Rebecca would reply because my words were so stunningly counter cultural.
“I know you don’t read Christian fiction. I don’t read a lot of it either. But you would like the book Havah. Havah is the Hebrew word for Eve. The novel was written by a well-known Christian author named Tosca Lee.
The author’s lyrical account of Eve’s joyful first months [or maybe years- who knew? there was no created construct called time for death had not yet warranted it] of her existence approaches poetry. An existence where words are superfluous and all creatures are named and communicate, animals as well as the first two humans. Eden.
Author Tosca Lee’s portrayal of Eve’s seduction by the serpent is nothing short of masterful. We continue reading as the dread builds and builds. But it’s her deceptively simple prose when describing the terrible and immeasurable consequences of ‘the fall’ that astounds. Here are some examples:
I cried out in a language without words for the One to restore me. Too late; I was like the child that reaches up with broken arms. He said very quietly, I will greatly increase your conceptions. With pain you will give birth to children. You will long for the man, but he will rule over you….
….You talk of God?” I screamed at him. “You, who say that you ate what the woman gave you—you, who hold no responsibility for what you put in your own mouth?”
“Go! Run to the eastern gate!” the adam shouted over a distant rumble. “Run!” Run? My body had rebelled against food and consciousness already. How could I run wearing this terrible trophy? “I am going for our things.” He pushed me away. “Go!” I took one last look at the face I loved and abhorred, and then turned on my heel and ran.
Had the animals turned traitor to us as well? I thought of Adah and her mate. Or had we turned traitor to them?
I tried to shout the holy name of God, which I had known, but when I opened my mouth, it was like something just beyond reach, so that I stuttered the unintelligible. “It is I!” I cried. “It is I!” Thunder drowned out the sound with a roaring clap, and lightning flashed so brilliantly it blinded me for a moment after.
The first fight I had with the man who would become my husband was in a conversation where I claimed that only anatomy and physiology distinguished men or women. He had been dumbfounded at my insistence that we were equal aside from just our biologic differences. I was a woman of my time, my colleagues were men. I had taught myself to think like them, behave like them. He was a devout Catholic. I was puzzled at his anger…until I pondered the argument long and hard.
Origins of the gender wars, climate change, biologic extinction: Echoes of Eden.