Today’s Bible reading

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. — Genesis 3:8

More thoughts for meditation

The Garden of Eden story was first presented to me as a literal story of the first people on earth, which proceeded from there to the rest of human history. As an adult, I’ve tended to see it more as a metaphor – true because of how it resonates with my own experience. Lately I’ve been exposed to what ancient theologians called allegorical reading, but which we might call mythological or even supra-literal. Such a reading suggests that Adam is both a man, but also man itself; just as Eve is both a woman and also woman.

Adam and Eve, after they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, hid from the LORD God. This is also to say that humanity hides from God. I would suggest that “and they hid” is a nothing less than a three word summation of all of human history. Everything we experience is taking place in those trees. Max Picard calls it the “flight from God.” Our own specific experiences of hiding are refractions of that one act. Our individual flights are only specific instances of the one great Flight.

Hiding is a response of shame. We avert our eyes. We are unable to bear the presence of the others. We feel that there is something wrong or ugly about ourselves that requires our removal. The automatic response is of flushed cheeks and downcast eyes. It is incredibly painful. No one can endure it for very long. Unsurprisingly, we try to avoid it as much as possible. We replace it with feelings that are more easy to manage, such as guilt or anger.

Many people have experiences of shame buried deep within their pasts. Often it is the result of traumas we have experienced throughout our life, big or small. Depending on when they happened and how severe they were, the hurt can be quite deep and painful, and can color our everyday experience of ourselves. God does see our hurt, despite the defenses that we hide behind. He desires our healing. And She is patient; God will stay with us as long as it takes for us to come out from the bushes.

Suggestions for action

Look for small opportunities to make yourself known, to yourself, others, or God. It doesn’t need to be over-the-top. You are just looking for little places where you can be sincere when you otherwise would have been sarcastic, or direct when you would have been passive-aggressive. Keep trying, and don’t be too hard on yourself.

You can try the same thing in prayer. Let your prayer just being an exercise in saying out loud how you are actually feeling, or what you want, regardless of how silly or unimportant it might seem. Who you are now, at this moment, is important to God.