Echo down the years
after Genesis 3
Who were Adam and Eve? I just do not know. But if we might understand a myth to be something that is 'truer than life' , or 'bigger than a true story' - something, let's say, that is so true it is always true, if you can understand my meaning - then I can find resonance in this and in any bible story, without demanding that it be taken as a factual account of human history.
Richard Rohr begins to explore this idea here: (although I want to say that this is not where I first understood the power of mythology)
I understand the human experience of longing; in fact I would go so far as to say that my whole life has been defined by an aching, deep, ongoing sense of heartfelt longing. Might not being sought out, and called by name, by someone who loves loves loves you, be something that every individual yearns for? But that we shy from, out of that oh so familiar shame or guilt that we like to carry as a self-defensive and a self-destructive shield?
He always came for us in the evening, came with his familiar, kind voice calling “Where are you?” with that sweet singsong lilt; we would immediately emerge from whatever we had been doing - glad to down tools, to end the day in his company. Sometimes we would be waiting for him in some new favourite place we had discovered, or we would stay hidden and try to trick him with animal noises (that made us all laugh); or (actually my favourite) we would all three play sardines, and oh I so loved finding myself in a shady thicket where he was pretending to be a tree, and us both keeping silent as mice while Adam caught up with us. Sharing him was beautiful; having him to myself was more exquisite than I can put words to.
But on that day, when he came calling, we stayed silent.
No game, no joke, no laughter … but shame, that burning shame with its terrible deep cold horror.
Why didn’t we just own up immediately - go calling for him at the first opportunity? Why did we both want to blame the other, drive enmity between us, to match the devastation in our own hearts?
I did not know myself; I could only cringe, seek darkness, try to cover myself with any possible thing, only wishing to not be where the fearful consequences of my behaviour had me trapped.
As if denial could alter what was already done.
And his voice called “Where are you?”, and with ever increasing agitation - he knew, I sure he knew before we told him what we had done - and with the searing sound of sadness in his voice, agonisingly searing again what had shattered in my heart when I reached out and took that bite, when we together chose to take that deathly bite … wretched, ugly, sour fruit.
“Where are you?”
“Where are you?”
The echo of his question haunts my nights, my days. He called my name and I didn’t come to him.
“Where are you?“
I can no longer distinguish in myself between his call and my own.
My name, my whole being, has become this one question, this unquenched, unbearable longing.
My heart, my life, has become this yearning: to be called once again, by my name, to meet with him in the cool of the evening.