"Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think."
-Michel de Montaigne

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lessons from Genesis

When God banished Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, he condemned Eve to painful labor and wanting a husband who would "rule over her." For Adam, he would only survive by the sweat of his brow. The animals, once their helpful companions, would now bite and snap at their feet. Disgraced and cursed, they left the Garden to a life of pain and bitter, neverending toil.

Everyday I watch my husband wake and get ready for work--as the hours grow closer to his departure, his kind eyes glass over, his already small mouth pursed into an even tighter oval on his face. His movements become quicker, and his words more sparse. I struggle to change and feed and clothe and strap the baby in for the ride; I am my husband's warden, escorting him to the prison yard where he negotiates amongst the other inmates, all desperate and scheming. As for me, my days are filled with cable television--sure--and creature comforts like windows and couches. I am not confined to a cell, I am able to walk outside at my leisure. But nonetheless, something eats away at me. I am dying even as my husband, the inmate, dies in the prison yard. It is a gradual death, quieter, as the world outside my home keeps moving on without me. I am not a prisoner, no, but nonetheless, I am still here in the jail as the warden. I am here because I choose to be, which is sometimes worse than the inmate, coerced. I am alone. I yearn for my husband, who is always gone. I am still suffering from a painful labor. I lick my wounds, feeling powerless because I am not the money-maker now, and he pushes down whatever bitterness he feels as our daughter grows out of his presence. We are eachothers' wardens, in the end.

So what are the lessons learned from Genesis? I find that my suffering is ancient and universal. Somehow this comforts me. I find that there is no one gender more afflicted than the other, though the punishment is so different. Somehow this also gives me comfort. I learn that eventhough God cast Adam and Eve from the Garden, he provided them clothing--protection, provision--before sending them to their deserved destiny. This gives me hope. It reminds me that this bitter toil is necessary, but that God will take care of us, however undeserving.

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