As the Narrative Lectionary cycle begins again, I’m starting a new project. Using the weekly texts from Year 3 (Luke), I’ll be offering reflections rooted in grief. I hope these will be helpful to those trying to locate their own grief in the stories of God, as well as to those who are supporting loves ones as they journey through grief’s wilderness.
Year 3, Week One: Creation and Fall (Genesis 2:4b-7, 15-17, 3:1-8)
If grief is an expression of love, then God sets Themselves up for grief from the very beginning. In this second account of creation, God forms the adam (the human) from the adamah (the ground/dirt/dust) and blows into them the breath of life. And though God has made an abundance of creatures alongside the adam, this first human is dissatisfied with what God provides from their first moment. Though God intends Themselves to be the human’s helper, the adam searches in vain for another.
It is God’s grief I can’t stop thinking about here. How much does God know ahead of time, before a thing is created? Is every beautiful moment ruined by anticipatory grief for Creator, and They await the pain of Their creatures’ betrayal? How many days did the adam and their God walk together in the cool of Eden’s evening before the woman was created and took the Helper’s place? Was God ever awaiting the serpent’s question, and hoping against hope that the adam would not be tempted?
I wonder about the grief between the adam and chava (Eve) after he throws her under the first ever bus, blaming her for his disobedience. She trusted him, not only as her partner, but as the one who had heard God’s command about the fruit before she was created and reported it to her as law. Surely she mourned not only her own choice, but the loss of trust between herself and the adam. And of course, the couple together must grieve the loss of Eden, where their life was simple and easy. Put out into the wilderness, their lives are bifurcated, the path between before and after blocked by a cherubim and a self-brandishing.
Still, the grief that grabs me in God’s, as They are forced to restrain the love they have for the humans in consequence of their disobedience. Yet, as any grief traveler knows, love does not stop seeking an outlet just because the beloved is no longer available. Thus, God’s love is stitched into the garments the first humans wear into the wilderness. Unaware, the humans carry on their very bodies the proof of Love that lives beyond all death and its attendant grief.