Last Words

Removed, as they were from the garden…

They thought the names arbitrary things.

He laughs at them


He shakes a little,

In his body.

In his voice.


“Each new thing.”

He says it again.

“Each New Thing.

It reached… within.”


He sees in their eyes that they do not understand.  

He stirs the coals in the fire.

His thoughts are a little disobedient, now.  Sometimes.

He tries to line them up again.  

The others all watch respectfully.  Patiently.

He hates that.  A little bit.


“That great naming.

It was an act of listening.

It was an act of listening for a name

Which had already been said.

In the Time Before.”


Recognition in those beautiful brown eyes?  

Perhaps it was recognition.

Seth was always the sharpest among them.


“We have so many words now.

So many that you might lose one for a moment.

That feeling…  When you have lost a word.  

When you are so close that you can taste a word,

But still not find it’s sound…”


“That is what it was like.

To look upon The Creations.

And name them.”


It is not only Seth who nods now.

The old man knows what he knows.

He knows that this is not sympathy, here.  Now.

He is thankful for that.


It inspires him to continue.

He wishes them to know so much.

His time.  After so long.  Is running short now.

He continues.


“There was something within me.”

“A name that wished to burst forth from my lips.”

“I tried it on so many things, in my mind.

But it was never time.  Never time.

Never time to say it out loud.”


“And so other names erupted out and around it.

I held that name in my heart unsaid.

Until she came.  Your mother came.

But then came our dying time.  Our casting out.

After our time of mourning was through.

I remembered that name within me.

I said it out loud.

And it was her name.”


He is lost for a moment.

They are lost for a moment.

Looking in the flames.

Ignoring the smoke.

He does not care about the tear that slides down his dry cheek.

When did he stop caring about things such as this?


“It was good to name her Eve.

I would have thought that was the end.

But it was not.

That garden is gone, now.

That time is is gone, now.

It will never return.”


A spit-crackle.

They watch him so closely.

This is the thing he hasn’t wanted to tell them for so long.

He does not know what any of this means.


“There is still a name.

A single last name within me.

But the time of the naming is done.


There is a something,

With out a name.  

And there is me.  

With one word extra.”


A time.  A timeless time.


He died in his sleep with a single last gasp.


A tender hand.

Reached within him,

Even as he returned to the dust.

It took that unspoken word out of him.


And a time.  A timeless time.


That word?

That word was made flesh.

God the Mother

God reached into the dirt, and kissed it.  And suddenly, it was alive!

That first human was made in the image of God.  It seems that it came with the breath itself.

I have been thinking about how Eve was made from Adam’s rib.  And wondering how God’s image works through all of this.

It could be that God’s image was just copied into both of them.

But given all the stuff that is said about sex and marriage, and it seems like maybe a separate part of his image ends up in both of them.  God’s image isn’t copied, it is broken in two, and Adam and Eve each get a part.

(This seems to connect with the second creation account, that occurs later in Genesis.)

Here’s the pretty amazing thing about this possibility:

It puts to bed all the talk about God as a ‘he.’  It locates the divine in the feminine and the masculine.

God the father and mother!  So much more robust and liberating then just choosing one or the other.  A pretty cool thing.



I am here.

Those words?  Perhaps the most powerful words in the English language.

I am here.

They are more powerful, I am learning, than “I love you.”  They may just be more fundamental to who we are than ideas of home, or even of mother, and father.  I suspect it is written into our deepest history.

I think that this is what the story of Adam and Eve is about.  We began with this connection to our maker, to each other, and to ourselves.  At that time, we could truthfully and fully say, “I am here.”  We were naked and unashamed.  We entered into the created world in this attempt to name things, to understand it.  It was all good.

There is something different about the interaction at the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  I suspect that the knowledge offered by this tree is something inferior to the learning that was happening elsewhere in the garden.  Suddenly there is this hair-splitting and debate, going on.  They are no longer in that moment, present.  In their imagination they are comparing a future where they have eaten the fruit with a future where they have not eaten the fruit.  To do this, in their memories, they are thinking about what the past has been like.

There are so many ways to not be here.  There are so many forms of absence.  So many ways to fail to be present.


I think ‘being here’ must mean a lot of things.  I just barely have words for some of them.  At the minimum,  being here means stepping back into the present.  There is so much of me that lives in the past, and this part of me projects that past into my future.  I am so rarely experiencing what is happening now with fresh eyes.  I am so often putting happenings in these little boxes, “This is how it happened before, this must be how it will happen again.”


This is my goal today.  To experience some of those brief little moments, that stretch out on their sides into eternity.  I think they are echoes of the life we lived before we ate the fruit.

Too Many Guard rails.

Imagine a road.
Maybe it’s a curvy road. It’s a bit dangerous. So somebody sets up guard rails.
The guard rails help, some. They decrease the number of people who drive off the road, damage their car, injure themselves.
Yet sometimes, careless of sleepy drivers veer into the opposite lane. Occasionally, there are head-on collisions. Head on collisions are never good things. So they set up a guard rail running down the middle of the road. And it becomes even more safe.
But once in a while, cars are moving too fast or they are too heavy. They drive through the guard rail. And so they put a second set of rails inside the first.
But even two rails aren’t enough for the faster, heavier cars. So they put a third, a fourth, a fifth.
At the end of this process, the road is left so narrow that nearly every car is bouncing off of them. Some people (presumably those with out much interest in the appearance of their automobiles) even grow to depend on them; they are more careless on this heavily guarded rode than they otherwise would be, knowing that the rails will keep them from driving off.
A good chunk of the freedom people would have had, in the form of space, is just eaten up by the rails. Drivers are limited, now. Perhaps it used to be two lanes in each direction. Now, it is only one. Tempers flare because nobody can drive around slower people in front of them. The original goal is achieved: nobody drives off the road. But is it truly safer? Is it better?
We are handed rules all the time. Often they are good. With the best of intentions, we set up these guard rails. And sometimes, the first set, maybe even the second, these are good, too.
I see this in the church all the time.
The bible says that we shouldn’t get drunk. Good idea. People set up the first guard rails. Maybe don’t have 3 drinks. Also a good idea. (o.k. kind-of a good idea.) And then there is a second set of guard rails: don’t have 2 drinks. And then a third guard: Don’t drink at all.
It’s not a bad thing, not to drink. But when we treat the third guard rail, (don’t drink) as if it’s God’s idea, bad things can happen.
I realized, recently, that this is not new. In fact, it’s one of the first things that people ever did.

God told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve reports to the snake, ” God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die.”
We don’t know where the miscommunication comes in. Or why. But it seems to me that the most likely thing is that Adam built a guard rail. To keep Eve away from the fruit he added the idea that they couldn’t even touch it. Who knows? Perhaps he even convinced himself of this.
I can understand why he might want to do this. It would be a pretty dangerous thing, to stand there, fondling and ogling fruit that you are not supposed to eat.
But to claim that the order comes from God that we can’t even touch it… I imagine that Eve stood there, in the garden, and when she touched the fruit and nothing happened, it might have motivated her to take that next step. It would be easy to think, “Well, I wasn’t supposed to touch this, and yet nothing happened when I did. So presumably when I eat it, nothing will happen either.”
I wonder how many people thought that God said we shouldn’t drink at all. And then they had a drink, and the world did not come crashing down around them. And it called into question everything they had been told about God, everything they believed about God. And they decided God didn’t have much to offer them, words that they thought were his turned out to be wrong.
I don’t believe that we are meant to Genesis literally. But I do believe we are meant to take it seriously. I think the whole book is seeped in layer upon layer of wisdom. This seemingly insignificant detail about Eve is just one tiny little nugget of that wisdom.

Job’s Choice

A closeup of a hug.
A closeup of a hug. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This season in my life sucks.  I want to get that off my chest first thing.  I don’t want it to seem like my motivation in writing this is to be all “ohh, look at him, look at him.  He’s all holy stuff.”   Nor do I want there to be an implicit  finger wagging itself in judgement beneath all this.

I want to be upfront and say I would trade most anything… I would trade too much to get through this time in a quicker or easier fashion.  (And here is why the theological debate of original sin is irrelevant to me: I make Adam’s mistake every day.  It doesn’t matter to me if I would have inherited the penalty of his sin.  I earn it by myself every day.)

But thank God, I am not faced with the choice Adam or Job were faced with.  It’s not an option for me to take a cheater’s short cut through this.  It’s said that we’re never given more than we can bare.  We’re promised that God tests us, but never tempts us.  Given that choice would be too much for me, I think, and God knows it.

And if I took the cheater’s short cut, if I robbed myself of this dark season, I would miss out on so much.

That’s why I feel called to write this today.  I want to proclaim to myself and anybody who happens to be plodding through this: there is so much going on in my spirit right now.  There is so much happening to me in this dark time.  So much growth, that I think I’m just too shallow, thick-headed, and wimpy to achieve in any other way.

When I finally opened up the bible, the words jumped out at me with so much importance.  It was kind of like going from a two-d movie into a 3-d movie.  If the third d wasn’t breadth but breath; if the third d wasn’t about the georgraphy of space time, but somehow created a direct line to somewhere deep inside.

One of the things I read was how the John was sitting up, next to Jesus.  He leaned into Jesus when he asked the teacher who would betray them.  He leaned into him.

Who knows if that’s more of a metaphor statement than a literal description.  John leaned into Jesus.  Metaphorically leaning into Jesus is the best I’ll be able to do in this life.

I know all the cliches and I hear them all the time, about how close we’re supposed to be to Jesus.  Frankly, some of them make me uncomfortable.

A biblical description becomes almost a biblical invitation to do it myself, though.  It’s different than if it occurs in some cheesy worship song.
The bible itself tells me that Sitting right up next to Jesus wasn’t enough.  Sometimes, we need to lean into him.

Maybe I’ll blog some more about the work that this time is doing in me, and on me.  About 2 of the last 4 posts I’ve already published really are about this.  But there’s more to be said, a lot more to be said.

God breathed.

Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam (1512) is ...
Image via Wikipedia

Genesis describes God breathing life into Adam.  Much later in the bible, in the book of Timothy, scripture is described in a way that is usually translated as inspired.

But the actual words used are ones which literally mean God-breathed.

We do an awful lot with our belief that scripture is divinely inspired.  I’m not denying that it is.

But I wonder if we were meant to go in these directions.  I wonder, instead, if the idea in Timothy wasn’t to evoke a paralell with the book of Genesis.  God breathed life into us.  Then he breathed life into words.  And those words would eventually be collected into the bible.

In the same sense that human kind is set apart from the rest of creation, so too are the books of the bible.  The breath that God breathed in gives an inherent value, a preciousness.

After a busy day

Adam named them all.

that done, he lounged.

Naked and unashamed.

In the Garden.

He contemplated his help-mate.

Considered locating her.

He realized that she was nowhere to be seen.

He realized there were these rules.

He’d never told her of.

By the time

he worked up the enthusiasm

to go find her.


was already mid-conversation

with a thing

he’d recently named serpent.

(He was especially proud of that one, serpent.

It starts soft and ends hard.)

One wedge had been chewed out of the fruit in her hand.

Its juices ran down her chin.

Adam took it from her with a shrug.

But also a feeling of wonder and horror.

He contemplated that he’d mastered all the nouns on that warm afternoon.

He reckoned that he was ready

for the knowledge of good

and the knowledge of evil.

Returning to the Garden

A disclaimer: I am dealing with quite mature, explicit, and sexual themes in what follows. 

In the beginning…


And even when the stars were assembled,

Even when the fundamental forces were gathered,

even when the light burst out from the darkness…

Only the angels were present to watch.


Up came man from the dust.

Complete and lonely in the garden.


And then!

Where there was One,

and then where there was two…

Came a third of that same flesh.


The two were naked and unashamed in the garden.

The two were together in the garden.


God walked with them in the cool of the evening.


Did they recreate that oneness in the garden?

Did Adam’s hand fall to the place where his rib had been?

Was there an emptiness inside that was only quelled…

when the two became one flesh, again, in the garden?


Did they chase after this after the Fall?

We all chase after this after the Fall.


We glimpse what we had in the filth.

We glimpse what we had in this path to destruction.

We chase after the oneness.

We forget the flaming sword.


There is a path we can walk down.

There is a way to retrace that oneness.

It is a gift.

It can look

so much like

the ways that lead us astray.

Heaven in a Body

“Surprised by Hope” by NT Wright is doing more than playing with my head.  It’s exploding my brains. 

He articulates some things that I’ve been trying to put words to.  I’ve bumbled around with ideas about how embodied and physical Christianity is.  I’ve babbled about how  our traditional disembodied ideas of heaven don’t seem biblical.

He pulls all this together.  I’ll share some quotes later.

Today, I was reading a passage where he repeated one of his main points.

The idea is that Jesus didn’t actually defeat death if the afterlife is this nonphysical place.  He accomodated, death, perhaps, but he didn’t defeat it, if we wander around, ghost-like, after death.

Rob Bell, Wright himself, and others emphasize the idea that Revelations describes the final end that we were promised in the Garden of Eden.  The whole of human history was just a back-pedal, a delay, in reaching our final destination. 

This seems so dead on to me: Adam and Eve would have participated in the city described in Revelations.  They would have gotten to it much sooner than the serpent.

And so it struck me, as I was reading the book today:

We have no problem imagining an embodied, physical existence for Adam and Eve.   Many people agree that through Jesus we’re heading to the final destiny intended for Adam and Eve.  But people struggle with the idea that we’ll be physical beings in this eternity…

This all leads to the question: If Adam and Eve hadn’t fallen, at what point would they have lost their physicality?  If Adam and Eve are physical… if the final desination is non-physical… if Adam and Eve were supposed to end up there.  They’d have had to suddenly (or gradually, I suppose) become ghost-like and nonphysical.

Adam named Eve

Adam gave Eve her name.  According to the NIV, the word “Eve” might have meant living things.  This seems pretty likely, since the text says that Adam gave her this name because she’d be the mother of all living things.

I’m not convinved that everything in Genesis has a niave, surface kind-of meaning.  But I am convinced that everything in it has meaning.  And so I’m struck by several things about the fact that Adam named Eve.

The most interest thing about Adam’s naming of Eve is that it happens after the fall.  According to Genesis, it was Adam’s job to name all the creatures in the garden.  Presumably, he eventually would have gotten around to it.

But it’s interesting that he hadn’t already named Eve.

A common understanding of the fall is that both Adam and Eve were decieved by the serpant.  The problem with this understanding is that it flies in the face of what Paul tells us in the New Testament.  Paul speaks of Eden andsays “Adam, since he was not decieved…”

My friend Garret (who can be found at “outnumbered by 5” on the blog roll) has suggested that Adam’s sin was in allowing this all to happen.  Others have suggested similar arguments: Adam was supposed to be protecting Eve, Adam was the one who had directly from God about the expectations in the Garde)

Did Adam basically ignore Eve in the Garden?  He should have not just stood idly around, when the serpent was seducing Eve.  But on the other hand, Genesis makes it clear that he was physically present; Eve gave him some right after having some herself.

On the other hand, what if Adam was not yet up to the task of naming her.  Naming a thing gives us power over a thing.  It implies we are understand the fullness of what a thing is.

Eve (along with Adam) was created in God’s image.  Perhaps the idea is something like “You know, that thing over there, I can see calling it a tiger.  This tiger-thing, it’s pretty cool and interesting… But my help mate– wow.  I don’t even have a word to describe her.”

(Yes, I know that  he didn’t speak English and wouldn’t have used the word ‘tiger’.  Whatever word she used, the point still stands.)

Most of us accept the idea that Adam and Eve were changed after the fall.  Perhaps the fullness of who Eve was, perhaps this was much more clear to people before the fall.  I wonder if the image of God within us would be much more plain to us, if we could see each other the way Adam and Eve saw each other before the fall.

Perhaps if we could see each other through those nearly perfect, pre-fall eyes, we would say “Wow, there is no way that I can put a word to stand for the glorious image of God that is in you.”

After the fall, Adam names Eve.

Is this because it’s easier now?  Because he’s no longer seeing her the same way?  There are all kinds of reasons that Adam would no longer see Eve the same way.  He can no longer see her as clearly; his eyes have been “broken” by the fall.  The image of God within her has been muddied, distorted, hidden, because she has fallen, too.   And just a short time before, Adam had already used Eve as an object.  He had thrown her under the bus.  When God asked why it happened, Adam tried to blame it on Eve.

And so perhaps a deeper truth in all this is that man’s objectification of woman was one of the tragedies that resulted from the fall.  Adam treated like Eve as an object when he tried to use her to take the blame for the whole thing.  He demonstrated his ability to think of her like an object when he named her.

And at the same time, perhaps mixed up in all this, is a pathetic and woefully inadequate attempt at making up for the sin.  Perhaps it’s the first time in all of scripture that people demonstrate legalism in an attempt to make up to God when they should demonstrate a change of heart.  Naming Eve is like Adam saying “See, God, I can do what you told me to do.  This woman is the only thing still with me that was in Eden… but I’m still doing my job, following my mission, I’m still naming things.”

Many people believe that Adam and Eve were meant to populate the world from the Garden of Eden.  Perhaps in the specific choice of the name “Eve”, Adam is holding on to his last little bit of hope.   Making new life is still possible.  There is still hope in carrying on.  At least one aspect of what they were supposed to do, they can still do.