Today’s Bible reading and an excerpt
Read Genesis 3:1-12
The serpent said to the woman, “Surely you will not die, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will open and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the orchard at the breezy time of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the orchard. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” The man replied, “I heard you moving about in the orchard, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” And the Lord God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
More thoughts for meditation
During “Covid,” the terrible new season we will never forget, we have spent a long time alone in our respective “gardens.” Most of them have been way east of Eden. A lot of us have been stuffing ourselves on the horrible fruit of isolation. We are blinded by the delusive tricks of the time until we think isolating will save us from feeling isolated. The isolated isolate. A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends confessed about the same thing while we were worshiping in an actual garden, “When Covid first started I called all my friends and commiserated. Now I don’t call anyone.” By the time it is over, will we have any relationships left?
We’re like Adam and Eve, aren’t we? God comes looking for them in the garden and can’t even find them. Can’t leave them alone for a minute; they are like toddlers with a glass of chocolate milk headed for the berber carpet, not the kitchen table. “Where are you?” he calls. Spiritual blindness is curled around their awareness like a snake. They are cut off from the real garden by their limited vision – vision confined to their sin-soaked desires and their fear of the naked reality of their condition. Right when they need to trust, they stop calling – and they barely answer God, he has to look under a bush for them.
In our present awful circumstance which is going to last ALL WINTER and then some, no one intends to let isolation make them isolate. We don’t do virtual meetings because “I just can’t take any more zoom.” We don’t reach out because, “I just don’t feel up to it.” We stop doing all the self-care that seemed so relevant a few months ago because, “It is not really working and I may as well hunker down.” We rationalize, we justify, we make excuses because we all have built in to us the basic sense that we should do good and avoid evil. No one chooses any wrong action because it is wrong, for the wrongness itself, but rather because they’ve convinced themselves it is good in some way. As C.S. Lewis put it in Mere Christianity:
“You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness. You can do a kind action when you are not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty is wrong—only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him.”
Suggestions for action
In the moments leading up to our sinful choice—”I’m not going to connect, I’m going to keep drinking” or “I’m going to hang on to the wicked thing my Covid-crazed friend said as a reason to be alone and sulk” —we cloud our thinking with sentiments like “I deserve some me time” or “They don’t need to see me this stressed.” We tell ourselves that what we’re choosing is really good. We create a new mental world where we’ve declared a new right and wrong—basically, in which we’re God. Not that we think we’re God — but that’s the reality of it, in effect.
The great blessing is, after we fall, we often have that sensation that Adam and Eve had: our eyes are opened. We realize what sad and pathetic excuses we’ve made to ourselves; we see the things to which we blinded ourselves. The fog lifts and we see what we’ve really chosen, and what we’ve really rejected: “Yes, I could have called my poor sister instead of binging on TV and ice cream again.”
Thank God this chance for repentance always rolls around! This eye-opening, fog-lifting, coming-back-to-reality experience is nothing other than the grace of God penetrating the cloud we’ve put ourselves like a clear voice calling us out of our isolation, calling us back to relating to our Creator. We can turn away from the little world we’ve made for ourselves and turn toward God.
Pray: Open my eyes lest I become isolated from you, Lord.
Today is All Souls Day. This might be the most-abused part of the triduum. So if you have not checked out the meaning of All Saints Day, check it out at Celebrating Our Transhistorical Body.
Add to the laments on the page some people are using to pray! We’ll have a book of Covid-19 Lamentations!
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