East of Eden | Genesis 3:20-24
The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:20-24 | ESV
Humanity lives “east of Eden.” All of us. We all deal with a cracked, disconnected reality from the get go. We can make good or bad decisions in the context of this reality, but the cracked and disconnected nature of it remains the same. This is the bottom line truth of Genesis 3. Between debates of historicity and myth, of talking snakes and cherubim swords, this is the truth communicated to us through the poignant pictures of this fractured tale of the Garden. Richard Rohr’s comments are perhaps a fitting conclusion to this week’s reflections on it:
Leonard Cohen’s song, “Anthem,” states in the refrain: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” It sounds a lot like Paul’s statement about carrying “the treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7). These are both much more poetic ways of naming what we unfortunately called “original sin”—a poor choice of words because the word sin implies fault and culpability, and that is precisely not the point! Original sin was trying to warn us that the flaw at the heart of all reality is nothing we did personally, but that there is simply “a crack in everything” and so we should not be surprised when it shows itself in us or in everything else. This has the power to keep us patient, humble, and less judgmental. (One wonders if this does not also make the point that poetry and music are a better way to teach spiritual things than mental concepts.) The deep intuitions of most church doctrines are invariably profound and correct, but they are still expressed in mechanical and literal language that everybody adores, stumbles over, denies, or fights. Hold on for a while until you get to the real meaning, which is far more than the literal meaning!
In what most memorable way this week have you personally encountered the reality that we are living in a cracked world and universe? How can this been turned into a blessing rather than merely making you bitter or cynical?
Lord, thank you for clothing and warming us even in the midst of our bad choices and misdirected steps. Help me to remember today that you are for us, that you are for me – and that I have nothing to fear from you or from this world. Let your purposes be accomplished in me this day. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.