Friday, April 3, 2015

leaving Eden

The World was all before them, where to choose
Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
Through Eden took thir solitarie way.
Paradise Lost, Book 12, 646-649

 fallingforoctoberandecember: Autumn Hollow on tumblrI was born and raised Evangelical, and as such, I became quite familiar with story of The Fall of Man. Adam and Eve. These names are synonymous with a number of images, including but not limited to: nudity and poorly placed leaves, apples and snakes, and that fated, pretty tree.

This story frightened something in the core of my little humanity, each time I watched those Sunday-school Teacher’s hands place felted characters upon the board. I can still remember the yellowed walls of the church basement, the smell of dust bunnies and old carpet. I remember the long walk upstairs, back to the world of adults, wherein I spent each step wondering if I needed to hide from God. I became more petrified, each time I heard the story, that I’d already done myself in. Sinners are exiled. This, the lesson.

So, I began to see myself as exiled. Anywhere I went, I felt alone. When they taught us about Eden, they didn’t teach us about grace. When they taught us how we fell, they didn’t tell us we would be able to get back up. It was humanity’s fault, after all, and they deserved what they got. Had Eve simply chosen contentment! Had Adam shown self-control! If they had been perfect, the perfection they had once laid claim to, would still be theirs. God would still love them enough to keep them close. The moral became my mantra: don’t lose Eden, sinner.

I guess we all have our own version of loneliness, and mine came from this striving; this longing to return to a place I knew I could never get to. The trouble is, Idealism only seems cute. In truth, the Idealist survives on something that doesn’t exist. Perfect Peace doesn’t happen, and if it does, it doesn’t last, which only exacerbates my feelings. Nevertheless, I involuntarily strive for it. This is a terrible cycle, and it’s never worked. Eden, or what it has become for me, remains endlessly out of reach.

But Eden is already gone, isn’t it.  I cannot find it in my circumstances, and I know now I’m not supposed to. Sometimes I think I find it, like tiny threads in the chaos.  They vanish just as quickly. So I sit, to myself, think on that little bit of grace, what it felt like. Perpetually, goodness leaves. I’d rage at the loss, but rage is purely isolating. But then again, so is everything outside the garden.

The sacred shows up in gasps. To the lucky, to the blessed, to those who call themselves chosen; the sacred stays. The rest of us seek out wholeness in any way we can find it, by pretending we know how to love, or how to receive it. We, the wicked, hold on to what we can in a wicked world, and we do our best.

Perhaps, for the first time, I am truly leaving Eden. I've got my hand in a hand and my eye on Providence, and all the world before me. 

photosource: etsy

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