Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Daughter of Eve

I've been thinking about Christina Rossetti's poem "Eve" for a few days now since I posted it. It always has haunted me since I first read it years ago, but lately I've had some fresh thoughts about it.

Rossetti was a popular poet in Victorian England and a devout Catholic and Christian faith was one of many favorite subjects that she wrote about. She had a sister and two brothers, Gabriel being one of the Pre-Raphealite painters. (He painted the portrait of his wife that I've featured on this page.) She died in 1894 at the age of 63, from cancer. Her work inspired many writers into the 20th century, even though throughout her life she found barriers to pursue a career as a woman poet.


"Eve" is an especially favorite poem of mine. I like how Rossetti takes us into Eve's head after the Fall, then pull us out of it into a picture of Eve's position beside her dead son, then further out to the fellow creatures who overhear her tears of anguish around her. In a few brief verses, you are traveling through time, space and points of view.


In Genesis, it is very clear how Eve was tempted and why. She believed a lie. She wanted more than what she had. She didn't trust her Creator. She liked what she saw. But the passage is very quiet on how Adam was motivated. She gave it to him, and he ate. Did he understand what just went on right before his eyes? I usually take it for granted that he was tempted by the same things that tempted Eve, he was right there as the Serpent gave his sales pitch. But maybe he had something else on his mind?


The second she took a bite of the fruit, she was lost. She was damned. She, who was his helpmeet and only companion. What did Adam see? Going back to being the only single person in the Garden? Going through losing another rib, or another part of his flesh to get another wife? Seeing that there would never be another Eve, that he would always miss her even if God gave him Eve version 2? Maybe Adam doubted God could fix this situation, or that God would even bring him another woman.


When Eve bit the forbidden, he lost everything he had shared only with her. He was never going to get it back, even if he chose not to partake. Perhaps, because of their oneness, he had to take that jump into sin with her. Perhaps, he already sinned by being the older, stronger and more experienced human in the Garden and yet not knocking the vile fruit out of Eve's hand, shaking some sense into her and placing a good strong kick into the Serpent's addled brain?


Today, I went to a mall where I'm working temporarily. The mall is a constant source of temptation as I walk through it to get to my kiosk. After chatting with the manager where I'm working, I headed back to my car but I had to go by "Bed, Bath and Beyond". I went inside instead of walking by like I should have. I bought two items which I thought I needed, the total purchase not exceeding twenty bucks. But as I spent half an hour browsing, uninvited messages kept popping into my head, like:


"Hey, it's on sale!"


"Didn't Martha Stewart recommend this?"


"I need more organization, then I will be more effective."


"Wasn't it just my birthday? Would it hurt to buy myself another 'present'?"


"Our home is looking raggedy. I'm entitled to nicer surroundings."


Just a sample of many such ideas rattling through my brain. As I left the store with a new shower curtain for our home and a shower caddy to use at the gym, my head started to clear and I realized that I was hearing lies or half truths most of the time I was shopping. Just because something is on sale, it doesn't mean it will save money. I don't have to do everything Martha Stewart thinks I should. Yes, I need to be more organized, but buying something won't fix my laziness. No, I don't need another present. And no, I don't need to spend more money trying to make our home nicer, because it is nice anyway and I'm not entitled to spend money however I feel. It was a battle wrestling with all these "ideas". Through God's help, a state of contentment and trust in Him is available.


I'm glad that I'm not permanently working at the mall, that I'm just there to help out for a few weeks. The environment is practically demonic to me. I'm a daughter of Eve, I'll remind myself, temptation will have a pull on me. But I'm also a daughter of God, and He provides a way of escape for His kids when they are tempted. 1 Corinthians 10:13.




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