Starting Again (Again)

Photo credit: <a href="">William Cho</a>

Genesis 2:4b-14

One day, God made the earth and sky.

Before there were any plants or crops, because there wasn’t rain, and nobody to cultivate fields, the whole earth was watered by artesian springs. God molded the earthling from the earth, and breathed air into it’s nose to bring it to life. Then God planted a garden in the east, the garden of God, and planted the newly made earthling there. God planted every kind of beautiful tree to bear fruit for food. God planted the tree of life in the middle, and the tree of moral discernment.

A river flows from the garden of God that waters it and then divides into four branches:

  1. the Delta, which surrounds the sands where there is a lot of high-quality gold, amber, and onyx
  2. the Abay River, that flows all around Ethiopia,
  3. the Tigris, east of Assyria, and
  4. the Euphrates.

The point is that life, and all that makes civilization possible, emerges from God as it’s center and source.

In the first part, God makes the earthling (hebrew: adam) from the earth (hebrew: adamah). Life, comes from the breathing in of the breath of God.

The second part isn’t about geography. The description of these rivers can’t be reconciled on any map. These four rivers represent the life along which the major cultures of the ancient near east ran: Egypt, Ethiopia, and the fertile crescent.

As such, this second creation story isn’t really about the beginning of the world. It is about the continuous source of life. As God breathes, earthlings breathe. As a river flows, civilizations develop. Eden, the garden of God, isn’t a one-shot deal. It’s wherever you are when you breathe. It’s not geographically bound to a certain place. It’s wherever community flourishes.

No need to go on a great journey to far away places to find Eden. It really is in your own back yard.