The other day I was reminded of one of my first direct questions to God as a child. There I was sitting in the field, back to the tree, sky and clouds above me.
And God had been going on for years about how everything in the universe is an expression of him. Everything. It was an interesting study. I wondered why some churches use wine in their rites and other churches believed that all drinking was bad for you. Why the difference?
Well, he said….
Then one day I kind of had had enough of it. All things can’t be of God, I thought.
(Striking how young I was to begin to confront and contradict what God was telling me. Oh, well. It just foreshadowed a lifetime of being wrong.)
So I asked, how can a mosquito be an expression of you?
I mean, can’t God mean anything real? Anything positive and life-affirming?
At that time, I felt that mosquitoes were a plague. A literal expression of pure evil. Only out to torment us with that sound.
I’ve got your blood! Yippee-ki-yay!
That damn hum.
Again and again and again.
The only possible solution was the SMACK!
It was the only way out.
But everyone knew it was only a stop gap.
There was no real solution to mosquitoes except to move to Antarctica.
Which would have been better overall, in my mind.
Have I mentioned that I hate mosquitoes?
So God answered me: If you can hear my voice in the hum of a mosquito, you can hear it anywhere.
And to be perfectly honest, I huffed over God not only justifying mosquitoes, but making them his voice!
That’s the only word for it.
To me, the voice of God had always been silence.
He couldn’t define his voice as the chirping of a bird, or the sound of the wind, or the crashing of the ocean waves on the shore?
Oh, no. He had to go and present himself as a mosquito. Well, or least, its hum.
The voice of God in the hum of the mosquito.
After that, as I refused to listen to the hum as though it were God’s voice and smacked to my heart’s content (still do), I thought: God, you go get yourself a spine, put on some skin, come down here to Earth, and go camping in the Maine woods.
See how you like it.
All my life I thought of this as a very minor exchange. Nothing of significance.
But now I am old and everything is taking on a certain slant and meaning that I never appreciated before. I’m also so worn down into realizing that pretty much everything I think is right in terms of God is wrong, I may as well at least entertain the notions.
And here was a notion that I dismissed as easily as I flush the toilet. (Still do, really.)
Where is God in the mosquito?
And I thought of Eden. A garden in the woods. There must have been mosquitoes.
And so I thought and thought about Eden.
And how the church has mangled the teaching of that story until it is unrecognizable and completely inaccurate.
And as I studied my train of thought on the matter, I learned a few things.
And came to appreciate God in an entirely new way. (Imagine that, after all these years!)
Let’s start at the beginning of the heresy that is the story of Adam and Eve.
God created the Earth. He made light separate from the darkness. In the Bible, only the light is considered “good.”
Darkness is not characterized thusly.
And in Eden there was darkness, was there not?
As God plods along with his whole creation thing, he appears to like what he creates. Most of it, he calls “good.” He even ups his praise of himself once to “very good.”
But nowhere in all the words that tell the story of Eden is the word, “perfect” used.
Let’s look at the synonyms of Eden:
Heaven on Earth
So there we have it, the way we see Eden: a place where you can’t die, where all things are provided, where no evil exists.
There should be a screeching of the brakes going on in your heads right about now.
First, where in the Bible is any of this said? Does “very good” mean ideal? Perfect? Um, no it doesn’t. Not even close.
Second, who said anything about Eden being evil-free?
After all you can’t have evil in paradise, can you?
No. You can’t.
So here’s the question: Was Eden evil-free?
Um, no. It wasn’t.
Not even close.
Going back a bit in the story, God creates all the animals that fly and swim and have hooves and crawl on the Earth.
And he calls all this creating GOOD.
All animals on the Earth that God has created are GOOD.
Even the snake.
The Good Snake.
Who was evil incarnate.
God’s creation. God’s snake.
Not only that, but in the garden there are two trees.
One is the Tree of Life. Perhaps that is a nod toward immortality for man — eat the fruit, keep living. Perhaps that is the implication of that tree.
Or perhaps as long as the Tree of Life lives, life on Earth will continue. A kind of source or generator of God’s living force.
And, most certainly, not the church. That makes up things as it goes along.
But there, there in a shady corner, just looking like any other tree on Earth, whistling a little tree ditty, perhaps, trying desperately to convince the world that it is just another “normal” tree, is another tree.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Eden is paradise, the church exclaims. Scripture refers to Eden as the “Garden of God.”
I think there’s a new way to look at this situation.
Not only do Adam and Eve have to contend with Mr. Good Snake, the evil one, they have to coexist with a tree that can teach them about good.
If Eden was utopia, why was there a library in it that contained books (in the form of kumquats) that could explain what evil is?
And yet, somehow, somewhere along the way, it was all Eve’s fault.
She brought evil into the world.
Not Mr. Good Snake.
Or God, who formed both Mr. Good Snake and the tree that clearly knows all about evil.
So here is what I learned from following this trail:
(1) We know how to define evil: Evil is a false argument.
Good to know.
(2) If you follow the story accurately you will realize that Adam and Eve not only coexisted with evil, but were prevented though a command by God to know anything about it.
We have to deal with evil in total ignorance.
Or God expected us to.
(And, yes, both the two original dears ate the fruit, so supposedly they knew all about evil (which, in the Bible, takes the confusing form of being embarrassed by one’s body). But then they are dismissed, disgraced, displaced. Can they, by such treatment, trust what they have learned from that bite of the pomegranate? Who knows?)
But that’s how God designed the Garden of Eden: man-stupid / snake-smart.
And that’s our challenge, isn’t it?
God designed us to be at the mercy of evil, and to find our way around having to deal with it. In complete darkness.
At least to me.
I don’t know about you.
So, yes, there it is — the answer to my objections.
I’m not supposed to hear the sublime beauty of God in the hum of a mosquito.
I am to realize that even that which is coming for my blood, to leave only a lump and an itch behind for all my giving, is God.
The creator of good and evil.
For some reason.
Our challenge, perhaps.
How to find the truth in the false arguments that surround us every day of our lives.
How to stand with God, in our complete ignorance, and know that we are not the evil. We are not the false argument.
We are not the mosquito.
If we stand with God, we have a chance of not being the mosquito in life.
We might even manage to tell God’s truth once in a while.
If we’re lucky.
And we recognize the snake for what he truly is.