An Earthly Paradise

Question 1.1

God created the whole cosmos from nothing and bestowed an abundance of life on earth, a special garden, a paradise, in which he placed the first human beings.

1.1 An Earthly Paradise

1. God created the whole cosmos from nothing and bestowed an abundance of life on earth, a special garden in which he placed his crowning creation – Man.

2. Yet God remained somewhat hidden, not because of any desire to remain distant, but because he wanted Man to be in relationship with God. That is, God wanted a back-and-forth interchange with Man. Relationship involves mutual disclosure, but of course, God being infinite, this disclosure could only happen by small degrees. Yet God did not want to impose, for love is not like that. Love seeks to draw out from the beloved what is inside him or her. So God’s hiddenness is somewhat playful.

3. Yet God not only wanted a relationship with Man, he wanted humanity itself to be constituted by relationship.

So God created us male and female, so that the imprint of relationality would be in our very bodies.

Our own being as bodily creatures would be an ever-present sign of the invitation to communion. The man and the woman would beckon each other, in a dance of love and unfolding desire. So God wanted his hidden gift of love to permeate human life in a beautiful but mysterious way, not overwhelming us but giving us the space to freely love each other.

4. But wait, there’s more! Not only would our bodies speak of communion, they would also become the means through which new spiritual-bodily beings would come to fill the earth as a ‘cooperative venture’ between God and Man. God said “Be fruitful and multiply!”

5. But God also had in mind a hidden and surprising Gift, much greater than the first gift of creation.

God intended to give us a Second Gift, to come into the direct presence of God, to participate in the life of the Divine Trinity from the inside.

However, the time was not ripe, so God drew their attention to the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ which symbolised the potential for this second gift and cautioned them that it would be harmful if they ate of its fruit, not because it was bad, but because the conditions for them to safely partake of it were not yet fulfilled.

6. However, this reality was necessarily surrounded in mystery, since they had no way of understanding it. They needed to trust God. In view of all the gifts he had given them, why would they not?

7. Yet the awareness of this mystery might nag away at them, so to abide by God’s warning they would need to accept that they were indeed creatures, and that God was God. They could not cling on to their blessings but must be prepared to share them.

8. If they did obey God they would eventually discover a happiness beyond anything they could possibly imagine.