A Midrash In Four Acts
Scripture: Selections from Genesis 2 & 3
Given on June 16th, 2013 (Second in the Life, Abundant Series)
A formless void. Waters and wind and darkness covering everything. We are told that this was the condition when the spirit of God began to pass over creation. A formless void. And then God declared, “Light!” and there was light. And God saw the light was good. And soon the light was separated from darkness and the one was called day and the other night and that was the very first day of creation. Others would follow. On Earth, God would make this dome that we call sky. A dome to hold back the tumultuous waters of the firmament from this new formless void that God was beginning to add shape to. In this way, God could control the amount of water which fell onto the earth giving us only what we needed. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And soon after that land and plants and vegetation to be grown and consumed for the sustenance of all creatures. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And then the sun to light the day and the moon at night to give weary travelers a bit of light at night. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And then winged bird and galloping horse, fish and turtles and dolphins in the sea. Wild animals of every kind to roam the earth and sea creatures of every variety from mollusk to leviathan to occupy the sea. And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. But something was missing, something to be aware of all this beauty, to be aware of all the love that had been showered down upon the earth. Something that could share in the joy of God and be created in the very image of God and could spend all of eternity in a dance of beauty and grace with the Divine. And so we were made. Formed in the image of God. Given the responsibility of caring for the earth of taking care of all its inhabitants, of living in perfect harmony with one another and with every creature that walked the face of the earth and swam in the sea. Of cultivating the earth and bringing up all manner of things to eat. Of sharing everything one with another. Of only taking what we need to ensure that all other creatures can have what they need. Because to do otherwise was to break the laws that governed life and made it so that all people, all creatures could live together. And so it was. Creation now complete. The curators of creation now tasked with being fruitful and multiplying. And God passed over all creation again, saw the law of life beginning to spread through all the people, all the animals, each taking just what was necessary for the living of this day and leaving the rest behind for someone else. Something else. And as God passed over this scene of perfection, God knew that all that had been created was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day. And after that, God rested. And it was perfect. It was so perfect. Like sitting on your back porch, with a glass of sweet tea, when the temperature is a perfect 72.3 degrees and you watch the sun set over the valley. Except it lasts forever. It was all so perfect.
And if that were the whole story, we could have lived forever, in perfect harmony with God and with each other. Our relationships only being defined by the love from which we were created and in which we rested. But we all know that is not the manner in which we live today. Love is rarely the thing that solely defines our relationships. And in order to explain that, we are told the story of Adam and Eve.
And so, in the time before the land would bear vegetation, before God had opened the dome between the firmament and the earth, God knew that one was required to tend to all the tilling, all the growing, all the harvesting. God knew that in order for earth to be properly enjoyed that one was needed to be cognizant of the goodness that flowed from God onto earth. In order for God to share in the love that flowed from the Divine then there needed to be a recipient of that love. And so we are told that God came to earth, knelt down in the mud and began to mold. First a head through which our consciousness might be transmitted, through which we might ponder the mysteries of our world and the universe at large, with eyes too see all the beauty of the created world, with ears to hear the song of the bird on the wind, with a nose to enjoy the smell of chocolate chip cookies and fresh brewed coffee on a Sunday morning. With a mouth to taste and see that God was good. With a mouth that would open each morning and proclaim the greatness of God. And with a body, a body of strength to till the land and bring about the things needed for sustenance. With hands to hold and caress, with legs and feet to take this new person everywhere he needed to Go. And God, having finished this new creation, looked down and seeing that this Adam was perfect, bent down even further and wrapping lips around this Adam’s nose and mouth, filled his lungs with the spirit of life that would remain with him forever. And this Adam was left to explore all the earth, placed in a Garden of Eden out of which all the things necessary for life and life in abundance was present. And as rain began to fall from the sky the garden began to blossom and bloom and bear vegetables and fruits of all kinds and Adam was left in the midst of a cacophony of sounds and sights of birds and animals. And Adam could do whatever he wanted here. Deep in his soul he had the law of life implanted in his very being. He would live in harmony with all living things and beyond that he could do as he pleased. He could spend the day swimming in a pond or hiking to the top of a high mountain. He could sit under an apple tree and eat until he was full watching deer and bear and lion all pass his way. But there was that tree. That tree, the only thing that Adam couldn’t do, that tree. The tree which bore fruit like none he had ever seen. So beautiful. So sweet smelling. So tempting. Residing at the very center of the Garden, at the very center of the world. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You see, Adam was created and remained in a perfect state of innocence, never needing to know the difference between good and evil. Never needing to question to rightness of some actions and the wrongness of others. Adam enjoyed a perfect relationship with God. A perfect relationship with the world. The law of life remained imprinted on his very being. But the tree remained. A constant reminder of the one boundary set forth by God. The one thing from which he could not partake. Of course he ignored it at first. When he would pass by it, he would simply close eyes or turn around and plot a different route from point A to point B, but he knew it was there. At night he would close his eyes and hear its siren song coming from deep in the garden. He would dream about what it would be like to gain this new knowledge this knowledge of the difference between good and evil. In time it would consume his thoughts. And maybe God sensed Adam’s uneasiness. Maybe it was just time for the next generation of Adam to be created. Maybe God realized that companionship was the hallmark of the human experience. We were made to be in relationship with God, could we also share that relationship with another? And so God called to Adam and caused a deep sleep to overwhelm him and from him took a single rib and began to form this Eve from the rib of this Adam. And as Adam woke up he set his eyes on this new creature, this creature with features like his, with a nose and ears and mouth and a mind like his and she was beautiful. And they were happy. But this was not to last.
And so it was that the serpent, more crafty than all those who lived on the land came to Eve while she was alone one day in the garden and began to start the siren song of the tree in her head. Eve already knew of this one thing she should not do and so when the serpent came to her she quickly told him everything that God had said. But the serpent scoffed telling her, “God doesn’t want you to eat it because then you will be like God. In fact you will be so like God that you won’t need God. You will be God of yourself and the world with this new knowledge that you will acquire teaching you everything there is to know and eliminating the need for God in your life.” And so the serpent led Eve to the tree and she saw it and Adam was right. It was the most beautiful fruit she had ever seen. Unlike any in all the garden. And she knew she shouldn’t. Going on in her mind was a war of wills. The goodness with which she had been imbued telling her to just walk away, the spirit of exploration that so often drives human endeavors saying this is just the next thing that we as a species must overcome. And so, with trembling hands, she plucked the fruit from the tree. As she put it up towards her mouth, her teeth tearing the skin and the juice of the fruit passing over her tongue and down her throat it was every bit as delicious as she had fantasized that it might be. And with that she couldn’t wait to get back to Adam, to tell him this thing that she had done to bring him a fruit that he might enjoy it too. And he did and a second time teeth tore into the skin and the juice of the fruit passed over his tongue and into his throat and he who had spent restless nights thinking about this fruit, had plotted courses around the tree just so that he was not tempted to partake in it, he too saw that it was every bit as delicious as he had fantasized that it might be. And for a brief moment, both were in a euphoric state of bliss. And in his bliss he took a step back to survey the world around him, equipped with this new knowledge but something was not quite right.
As the two looked around at their familiar surroundings they were both aware of the shift in perspective that had followed their collective consumption of the fruit. Their eyes had been opened alright but not to the world they had had previously. That world was expansive, this world seemed to be closing in around them. That world had been harmonious with each taking only what they needed for the day. This world seemed a constant threat to the human inhabitants. In the distance, Adam saw a deer come to nibble on an ear of corn and a fire arose in the very depths of Adam’s being and he found a nearby rock and threw it at the deer as hard as he could glancing off its hide. The animal looked confused. And then sad. And then scared as it ran off into the woods. Eve looked at her companion and started ask what he was doing when a surge of desire and lust washed over her as she gazed at the man who had previously been her companion but now was a naked man, nothing more, nothing less. As Adam turned to look at Eve a similar emotion came upon him. Before she was his partner, now she was something wholly other, something to be desired but not loved. They both knew they must do something and so they sewed a few leaves together to cover those parts that had been created good but now seemed to feel dirty and shameful. As they tried to understand what was happening to them they began to hear the voice of God calling to them as God passed through the garden. Their souls both leapt with joy as they always had when God would pay them a visit but almost out of nowhere came a surge of humiliation at their state of undress followed quickly by the desire to hide. They could no longer be in the sight of God. And even as God found them again, it would never be the same. As God knit them sturdier loincloths and sent them out of the perfect of their life and into a strange world of toil and suffering, all they could feel was shame and confusion. They had traded the innocent beauty of a relationship with God for the desires to be gods themselves. For the desire to no longer need God. And somewhere in some back room in heaven, God wept. Amen.