Archive for the ‘Eve: if only she had been . . .’ Category

[Cont’d: from “Eve: if only. . .”]

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[This commentary also applies to the companion PROVOCATIVE painting, “The Purpose of Sex”]

When Adam was expelled from the Garden his punishment was not to work, to till, to make things – that he was already doing – but to put the curse of sweat upon it.

Eve, on the other hand, was expelled because she failed to be who she was, the Mother of the Living. She had chosen temptation before she yielded to motherhood.

From her lying down with Adam on Eden’s floor she had yet to give birth, to propagate the Image of God in Eden. Satan had caught her at her weakest – before she became a mother. By her going under the heel of temptation, she denied God the worship due him from a host of Image Bearers.

Birth was to be – how shall we put it – an act, a creature of Eden, not of Man’s Fall.

Eve’s punishment for disobedience was not motherhood exiled from Eden (motherhood was already the calling, the stewardship of her creaturehood), but pain, and threat of loss, attached to the labor of it.

Motherhood was to be her fullness, God’s Image becoming act in her. Motherhood is her worship of her Creator. As now, through pain, motherhood is to be her salvation – and, in time, the salvation of the world. So much so that birth itself would be the heel that crushes the devilish tempter of her (and her husband’s) Fall.

After the Fall, motherhood is liable to fall again and again into disorder, into shutting the womb against life, putting at risk her redemption, and that of the whole world.

Even with Adam’s manhood at greater fault, fallen womanhood, however murderous its confusion, cannot kill off the stewardship of her creation. Motherhood can never, ever truly wither away from the Woman’s truest self, abort itself from the Woman’s essence.  For Motherhood (like Adam’s work) participates, not only in our creation, but also in our redemption.  Motherhood (like honest labor) is the dough that the leaven of salvation kneads and rises.

A Woman’s motherhood is redemption for her; it is her dough that salvation’s leaven perfects, raises to the bread of life. This is why a woman is so fine-tuned, so acutely aware of the relations surrounding her creaturehood. It is salvation for her.  The redemption of the whole world is somehow tied to, wrapped up, and bundled in.

Behold your mother . . .”

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For a man it is otherwise, this coming and having of salvation.

When God created Adam he made him with a desire that not even He, God, could fill and satisfy.  When He molded Adam from Eden’s Garden dirt God stirred in the mix a longing for something other than Himself.

To God, this risk was worth the gift of freedom: to be loved and adored, in part, not directly, not face to face, but through another. Adam, fingered and whipped from Earth’s dust, was God-made with a void, an emptiness, which only the Woman could fill and satisfy.

Oh, the mystery of it!  To think, that – within the very act of Creation – for the Man & Woman, God was not enough.

Yet, it was here, in the ordered liberty of Eden, that snaky devilish Lucifer slithered his temptation up the tree.

Vulnerable Adam, himself, was the first to be tongued with the Satanic hissing, as he roamed Eden under the weight of longing. Where was Adam to discharge his burden, have it taken up by another, received as gift and satisfaction?

God thwarted that temptation through Adam’s Great Sleep.

From deep sleep – and Adam’s rib – God unburdened the Man’s loneliness, ejaculated his longing, not by his own hand, but through the flesh of another – the Woman’s.

Awaken on Eden’s floor, beholding the gift of it, Adam gave himself over to her.  Man was made whole.

Yet, as he gave himself whole and complete, he had to watch the Woman, his Eve, come into her own knowledge: that she too was created with her own emptiness, her own burden of longing – a void that neither God, nor Adam her husband, could fill and satisfy.

Like God not being the gratification of Adam’s hidden desire, Adam was not Eve’s final satisfaction.  For the consumption of Eve’s longing was not directed towards her husband, but rested in the other from her motherhood: the infant at play at her feet, and unborn babes yet to be.

This was OK with Adam, as it was with God who farrowed and dropped the seed of it. The Man rested his longing on the Woman, as she reposed hers upon the fruit of it.

Herein lies the mystery of creation, the means by which God’s image is weaved within the flesh, the fabric of all Mankind.

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Yet, sad was the tale.

On the way to Eden’s swelling happiness something other slipped in – Satan slithered up the tree.

Lounging among the branches, that snaky devil was coiled to strike Eve before she could come into full possession of her creation, before she entered into full knowledge of herself – the one of Motherhood.

Satan substituted that knowledge with another – a deadly one – one that shut the womb to all living things.  Eve was to be the mother of no one.  The Snake would wrap its aborting coil on the threshold of her womb’s door.

Satan knew what he was doing. By tempting Eve to fall he disrupted Adam’s eruption, his eruption within from being born into multitudes and hosts of Image Bearers. The Devil has his triumph: with her yielding Eve could not be the mother of any living thing – in a sinless Eden.

Yet, in spite of Great Falls and hard-hearted expulsions, Mankind, man and woman, is not left guideless and graceless.  For no matter how often snaky coils strangle birth and scrape the womb of yeasty warmth, bodily flesh still bears the Image of what it was, is, and shall be.

Satisfaction, gratification, and consummation had to come another way.  Amen to that. We know the Salvation Story of it – the one of the New Adam and the New Eve.

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Too bad Eve had not consummated her yearning (her motherhood) before the Snake slithered up. Too bad her satisfaction upon Eden’s Garden floor did not issue in birth.

It would have been no loss for Adam. He would fondle no regret – in Eden before the Fall – seeing his wife grieve without sin, watch her long for something that he, for all his swelling probing giving, could not satisfy: to see her yearn for yet to be had motherhood.  Had he not, in his own way, done the same?

Too bad Adam was never able to look into Eve’s eye and see her utter joy alight on a face other than his own. In sinless Eden such consummated bliss would have been had without envy of the other. In a sinless Eden there could be no sense of loss – the kind that comes after Falls and Expulsions when man competes with child for the woman’s affection. In a sinless Eden love’s trinity is never tangled.

No need for envy.  Adam had his labors, the work of his hands, by which to image God – to make things as God made the world.  Through his laboring hands Adam mothered things into the world.

If only Eve – in sinless Eden – had truly been Mother of the Living. Churning her husband’s abundance into hosts of sons and daughters, the world, the whole of it, would have fallen onto Eden’s floor – be plowed and seeded – and rise a Garden.

If only, then the Man and the Woman could have, like God, entered into their Sabbath.

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But it was not to be.

The Snake went up the tree!

That, though, does not excuse or exclude the need for redemption.  Motherhood, itself, both needed such and was to become such in Israel, and in Israel’s maids and mothers.

And so, in spite of snake-slithered trees, the Great Story began

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Must never be forgotten: however great is the Story of Salvation, this is also the story of men and women, of this Man and this Woman.

Here begins the telling of redemption – of bodies, of marriages, of work and motherhood.

Or, so they said in Sutter Creek![1]

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[1] See upcoming novel by the Artist, Forgiveness Sunday: a Marriage Redeemed in Sutter Creek.

© Stephen L. Golay