People of the Dirt
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
In Jerusalem, under the Dome of the Rock, sits the Foundation Stone. It's most known as the site where Muslims believe the prophet, Muhammad took his Night Journey, at the end of which he ascended to heaven. Jews believe it is the rock from which the world was created, and the location where God created Adam out of the dust of the earth.
I have known the story of Adam and Eve my whole life. It has always been a vivid story in my mind. But in reality, the images I have are largely those of drawings, paintings, and especially children's imagery. These are either images depicting European versions of Adam and Eve, or are very cleaned-up, pretty visions of happy, care-free humans.
But for some reason, this image of the Foundation Stone makes the whole story more... real. To imagine God creating humans out of dirt is -- well -- dirty. To imagine God creating humans in the desert makes me think of dirty, dusty, calloused feet, rough hands, and knotted hair. I think of the scientist's versions of early humanity -- homo habilis -- not-quite-humans looking more like apes than people, scrounging for food in the dirt.
I don't know why our modern sensibilities are drawn toward a clean, smart, highly evolved version of a naked-but-still-modest Adam and Eve. It was probably much more savage existence for early humans. And I kind of like it. An Adam and Eve that struggled to find food, didn't waste energy on pristine personal hygiene, and were completely in touch with the earth, the animals, the water -- this Adam and Eve are more accessible to me. I can relate to people who struggle. I can relate to people who stub their toes and get into arguments over who's going to bring home or cook the dinner. I like Adam and Eve who love the animals so much, it hurts to kill them for food, but they have to do it to survive. I can relate to Adam and Eve who get colds and cancer, who bear sons that hate each other so much, one murders the other. These are humans. These are people, flawed and scared like me.
I also like an Adam and Eve that question their existence. Who look to the heavens for answers and discover that the God who created them is very much present with them. I like Adam and Eve who disappoint God so bitterly, but God still loves them despite their flaws and failure. This Adam and Eve live long, hard lives. But in the end, they still have hope, happiness, and love.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Genesis 2:4b-25
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.
And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.