06 November 2016

Eve: The Fall

Genesis 3

Lies plant the seed
of distrust, clutching like a weed,
whisp'ring to my heart,
tearing me apart.
Distrust clouds my eyes;
feeling wronged, deprived
wrongfully - why
why can't I take what I desire?
Greed feeds the fire,
distrust rankles, the gap grows wider -

I am on the throne.
I rule myself now.
I, not you,
and I am free.

You call my name -
I flee in shame.
What have I done?
I need you near,
but, filled with fear,
repel you. I run
but cannot hide
from this guilt that stings inside.
What have I done?

Gnawing and biting,
a monster growing,
unwashable stain,
unquenchable pain,
sorrow and night,
no help in sight.

Homesick, I cry,
but the gap is too wide,
the road back fissured and torn.
I seek and wander aimlessly,
ensnared, when I would be free.
I reach - I fall - I fall again,
burning with the fire
of unsatisfied desire:
a hunger for you.
What can I do
to be saved from this death?

You reach - you die.
Why, oh why?
Into my destruction,
into my night,
you bring your light,
pull out the weeds,
rekindle trust.
No longer lost
I live again,

you are on the throne.
You rule my life now.
You, loving you,
and I am free.


[July 2013 - commentary November 2016]

I originally wrote this poem as a reaction J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion (excellent book!), which had made me think more deeply about what the "fall" (Sündenfall) means and how it came about. A prose version of those thoughts can be found here. ^^;

I find this poem really suits Eve. It was written sort of from the point of view of the "falling one" - though I believe that all of us go through our own "fall" and it is wrong to put the whole burden on Eve, as though she were the one who first brought sin into the world. We each bring sin into the world again and again, by repeating the mindset that got it all rolling... I know that I went through the kind of thing this poem describes!

What I realised reading The Sil (I love how novels and other books sometimes open my eyes anew to the Bible) and, at the same time, studying the themes of sin, atonement and justification from a shame-culture perspective, was that sin is not about breaking rules or being disobedient. It's actually about a break in relationship, about a loss of trust which leads to all sorts of other ills. The break of relationship with God leads to a break of relationship with others: we see that when Adam and Eve start pushing blame. And it goes on and spreads and grows: Cain kills Abel, committing the first murder. We see violent people like Lamech in the early genealogies of Gen 4-5. Sin is not just about me and God - it affects everything, it is a "social" thing. That is why when Jesus calls us to repentance, He calls us not just to love God, but to love others. Because reconciliation is not just about receiving forgiveness from God, but about peace with other people and with all creation, too.

Many people are uncomfortable with being called "sinners". Maybe because Christians have used the concept of "sin" almost like a weapon, or pressured others with it. But I believe that deep down we all know we have a problem, that we keep hurting each other, hurting ourselves, that something is broken between ourselves and God, ourselves and other people, and also within ourselves in the way we look at ourselves. And I believe that is sin. Sin is not about the things we "do wrong" (although that's part of it). Sin goes deeper; it's about the fissures and cracks, the distrust and fear and harmful attitudes, that keep us restless bring about the wrong that we do.

I know many are uncomfortable talking about sin - but I believe we must talk about sin, we must be able to confess sin, we must be able to openly face our brokenness. Because we know it's there and we struggle with it. I believe - and have experienced - that it is very liberating to be able to admit to what is broken in me - and to know that this brokenness is not everything, that there is healing, that God does not want to cast us out but comes looking for us (as He looked for Adam and Eve in the garden), that He wants to reconcile us to Him and help us find reconciliation with others and with all of creation. Confessing sin does not mean saying you're a bad person - it means being yourself before God, with all parts of you, even those you don't like - and knowing that, just as you are, you are loved.

Picture by Lucas Cranach der Ältere.

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