8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Ahhhh, the story of Adam and Eve. Who among us didn’t grow up hearing the story of the first humans in the Garden of Eden, the evil snake tempting Eve to eat of the Tree of Good and Evil, and the consequences of their sin? I remember how surprised I was the first time I learned this story wasn’t literally true, of how it was a metaphor and Adam and Eve archetypal humans. Even more surprising and gratifying was the occasion when I connected the dots with the “other” creation story in Genesis, the one where God created humans in God’s image and likeness and found them to be very good. My family of origin is divine!
So how did it happen that I, and all other humans, lost that connection? How did we come to forget who we are? After Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and felt fear and shame for the first time, God asked them, “Who told you that you were naked?” God sure didn’t. Yet somehow they came to believe they were no longer in union with God, as symbolized by the Garden of Eden, an illusion they chose to believe but certainly not one proffered by God. Yet it’s something with which all of us humans struggle. I think of my children, when they were babies and so clearly in union with God, and I wonder, when did they make the transition from being in union with God to thinking they weren’t? (And, of course, a mother’s guilt makes me ask myself what role I played in that movement.)
This Advent, I am grateful for at least the intellectual apprehension of the concept of my being God’s beloved. I still have a lot of growing to do before my behavior reflects that understanding on a consistent basis, but for now I give thanks for the gift of Jesus, who, in the fullness of his humanity demonstrates for us what it means to be part of a family of divine origin.