I have been thinking about Mother Eve today, not fully understanding her complex character or the complicated role she played. In some settings, we revere her. More often, we think of a rather foolish (or at least innocent and gullible) Eve giving in to a silver-tongued serpent. She effectively introduced transgression into the world and dragged poor Adam down a path that led them from idyllic garden to weed patch.
I like to think of Eve as forward-thinking rather than foolish. Even with limited, pre-apple vision, she seemed to realize the apparent contradiction between the warning not to partake of the fruit and the commandment to bear children. God had, after all, given Adam and Eve the fruit that he told them not to eat, and the garden state made the bearing of children impossible
Eve transgressed, to be sure. She heard something in the serpent's arguments that sounded logical enough to convince her to put aside God's warning. Adam, wise in recognizing either the inevitability of the situation or the foresight of his wife, followed suit. They shared an "oops, we messed up" moment, hid, confessed, learned a critical lesson, took their consequence without complaint, and made life possible for all of us.
I have had some experiences lately that bring me, in a small way, a greater understanding of Eve. I tend to prefer action to lengthy contemplation, forward movement to stasis. While a host of miss-steps have taught me to pause and ponder a bit before acting, I still find myself all too often leaping out into the abyss without a clear notion of my landing spot. I open my mouth when wise women keep silent.
Most recently, last week I made yet another error in judgment. I offended at least one person deeply, caused a dear friend a great deal of stress, and generally created a mess. I made the error thoughtfully, though, with a pretty good knowledge of the risks. In the end, a number of us learned valuable lessons that will benefit us down the road, lessons not so easily learned without the aforementioned mess.
This minor experience comes after a period of contemplating huge breakthroughs in my personal life gained only after several years of pain and messiness initiated in good part by my calculated disregard of some wise advice. I have concluded that the gain far outweighs the rather significant cost exacted. Life is like that.
Please understand. I do not presume myself or my experiences equal to Eve. However, I have come to realize that some of the important lessons and growth in life involved some either brave or foolish soul making a mess and seeing it through. Hopefully, as I think likely with Eve, the mess is perfectly suited to the divine end. Often, at least in my own life, God helps us spin gold out of the straw we spilled all over the floor. In any case, I owe my existence to Eve's willingness to risk her own life (not to mention garden bliss) for me.