Don’t Rush to the Entrée

#MidweekMeditation #LivingStories
Genesis Creation Story #2
Life is a banquet. Don’t rush to the entrée.

Over and over, I keep coming back to the same themes in my devotional life. You know, when you’re reading or praying or doing whatever it is that helps you connect with the Greater Other, and you’re hoping for something fresh and revolutionary, but often walk way with an affirmation of simple, basic truths you already know.

That’s kinda what the second biblical creation story does for me. (We often conflate the two stories — creation, and Adam & Eve & the serpent in the Garden — but they’re actually two different stories, perhaps coming from two traditions the ancient Hebrews inherited.) There’s some new stuff in this second story, but it echoes some of the basic themes we learn from story #1, maybe reminding us: “Hey, here’s another way to look at it.”

Story #2 is the Garden of Eden story. And that in itself is an echo. In other ancient creation stories, the gods are hungry and tired of doing manual labor so they create humans to do the work for them. Humans toil in the land so the gods can eat and rest. Genesis 2 has a different spin. God creates humans first, before the plants and animals. We’re not told why. We’re just told the God formed humans from the soil and blew the breath of life into them. Then GOD planted a garden and put the humans into it.

So right off the bat we’re told God is a garden-planter, and he places humans, as his special creation, in a garden. There’s work to be done, to be sure: he instructs the humans to farm the land and care for it. But the work is built on joy, on beauty. “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.”
Pleasing to the eye. Beauty is at the heart of it all. And perhaps that is one of the stand-out characteristics of us humans: we appreciate beauty. We love variety. How boring life would be without it.

That tells me something about work and earning a livelihood. From a young age, we’re drilled into focusing on one job, one career. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Or when we’re leaving high school or college and are told to focus on a career. One of the best things we can do is ignore that impulse and do the opposite. Try a bunch of things. Experiment, play, with different jobs. Find out what things you enjoy — what you like and what you don’t like. Each different type of work is a new experience, opening you up to the wide variety of life. And each will enrich you in some way. You’ll learn something new about life and about yourself. (In my life, I’ve worked in retail, in a hospital, in tech and computer operations and engineering, in academics, in publishing, and in church-settings. It’s all taught me something and broadened my life.)

It’s also true about relationships. We are often in such a rush, desperate to find “The One.” The perfect spouse. The one who will make us happy. Then we can settle down. But aren’t we cheating ourselves by not connecting with all different kinds of people? Won’t we learn more about life and ourselves (and God) by dating widely, having all different kinds of friends, before picking the one(s) we spend the rest of our lives with?

“The LORD God took the human and settled him in the garden … and the LORD God commanded the human, ‘Eat your fill from all of the garden’s trees…'”

Try a variety of things. Eat your fill. You don’t have to lock yourself into one thing so early on in life. In fact, recent studies show that people who shift careers in mid-life, who do something totally different, often end up much happier. Life is big. Too big to lock yourself into just one thing.

The Creator of it all planted a garden, full of every kind of tree, beautiful and pleasing to the eye AND good to eat. Life is like a banquet, a smorgasbord. The rich variety is good for us, it’s healthy. Sample a lot of different things — in friendships, relationships and jobs — before you settle on your entrée. Bon appetit!


refs: Genesis 2:5-17

Image “Berries” by Dave LZ from Pixabay, cc.