Once upon a time God had a dream, a dream of creating one god-like but also earth-like, one filled with the stuff of heaven while mixed with the dust of here. Now nothing like this had ever been tried before, but God was the great and powerful God after all, so God took the earth’s dust and with his hands God sculpted the man. Then God took the man’s face in his hands and breathed his very own breath into the man’s face, and God’s dream came to be. God led the man by the hand to the eastern edge of Eden, to where the garden grew. The two trees were already there – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life, and the man was given specific instructions regarding these trees and their fruit.
Everything was going according to plan until God noticed a strange fruit growing in the garden, the fruit of loneliness. So God swept the man up in sleep, and while he slept God once again tried something that had never been tried before. As any good gardener knows, you often simply need a shoot for a new plant to emerge. So God took one of the man’s bones that had come from nothing but dust and used that shoot to sculpt the woman. God then presented the woman to the man and the man said, “Wow!” and his eyes grew as bright as the sun because he knew at long last here was his companion, here was his friend for life. It was then the loneliness in the garden began to wither. But it did not die.
Now the Serpent lives to crush dreams. So he snaked up to the woman and twisted God’s words. “That you would die is a lie. The truth is you’ll no longer be earth-like but completely god-like. You’ll be God’s equal.” This temptation was too much for one so young, so she took and ate, and then she gave to the man and he took and ate for he too was so young. Instantly they saw they were naked, and then another strange fruit – shame – began to grow in the garden as well.
The great and powerful God arrived for their usual evening walk, but the man and the woman were nowhere to be found. God called, and the man spoke from the shadows: “I hid because I was afraid. I am naked.” God knew then that they’d eaten from the forbidden tree. When questioned further, the man blamed the woman, the woman blamed the Serpent, and the Serpent thrilled at the shame and blame of it all. Because of his great justice, God cursed the Serpent to a lifetime of dust, warring with the woman and her offspring. Because of his great mercy, God did not curse the man and the woman, but there were still consequences for their actions. The woman would now hurt when she gave birth, and the loneliness that had withered would slowly grow again between her and her husband. And the man would now hurt in his labor too, working his fingers to their very bones, bones that would one day return to the dust from which they were made.
God then led the man and the woman even farther east, to give birth and to work, to live and to laugh and to cry and to sing and dance and to grieve and to hope and to remember when they were so very young in the grand garden while at the same time growing older and older and slower and slower and closer back to dust. Even though God’s dream now lived beyond Eden, they were never ever beyond God’s love.
Prayer: Our Father who is always near to us, teach us to number our days that we would live justly and love mercifully and walk humbly with you and each another. For just as Adam and Eve died we too will one day die and return to the dust from which we came. We are not gods, but men and women and children. But thanks be to your Name that there is no created thing that can separate us from your great and powerful love, nothing, not even the dust. Amen.