I love this story! As a non-literalist, I don’t read it as history. However, as it’s been written and preserved in time and space, it is historical, and, as a story, it’s a grand metaphor, loaded with symbolic meaning about us. OK, as this is a personal reflection, it’s a story about me. And when I read it and see my reflection, I know how Snow White’s stepmother felt standing before the magic mirror, asking, “Who is fairest of them all?” longing to be told, “‘Tis you,” hearing only the sad refrain, “Ain’t you!”
What do I see? Sin.
Derived from the Greek, hamartia, meaning, “to miss the mark,” sin has less to do with my iniquity and more to do with my inauthenticity. The mark I miss is not perfection (I couldn’t hit that target no matter how hard and long I try!), but my failing to be and to become fully human, fully myself (indeed, fully my self), which, for me, means being fully loving and just.
And looking at the Genesis story, I see the reflection of the characteristic ways my sin appears.
When the woman and man eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, their eyes are opened. Discovering their nakedness, they clothe themselves.
So for me. When I lost the innocence of trusting vulnerability (soon after birth, I fear!), I, afraid of my nakedness, and, at moments, ashamed of who I am, learned how to hide from others and myself.
When God questions them (“What have you done and why?”), the man blames the woman and God. The woman blames the serpent. Neither claims responsibility or accountability.
So for me. When conscious of my less than noble acts of commission and omission, how difficult it is to see and to confess my part in the mess I’ve made or the harm I’ve done.
Looking at the Genesis story, I see the reflections of fear and shame of my vulnerability and my rejection of responsibility and accountability. Mirror, mirror, am I the fairest of them all? No!
This is why I also love the story of Jesus, who is the incarnation of love and justice. In his-story I perceive another mirror in which I behold the image of who I am meant to be (truly a vision of who I am) in my on target, making the mark authentic humanness.
Genesis. Jesus. Each is a mirror whose reflection is real. One leads me to despair. The other invites me to hope. In order to be truest to myself (my self), thank goodness, thank God I have both!