God’s Parenting Experience
We do not have time to tell much of the early life of God, but we have an ancient story handy. We will plunge right in.
God was never the same again, nor were Adam and Eve, when they were born in the presence of the word “word,”—the Consciousness that triggered the beginning by enabling them, these three characters, to imagine both past and future (we are speaking of actual words). In the backdrop of the story, God may have discovered the adventures and work of past creation and become aware of the apparent infinities of creation realizing through the power of the word, i.e., the chicken and the egg of consciousness, that creation had been God’s own work. God also found a life of adventure with the people God had made. These speaking creatures, who knew they could speak, proved to be more than a handful.
We might, just for the fun of it, tack on the question: How, in what manner, did God leave them? That’s easy, in the story he walks. Why did God leave the children, Adam and Eve, alone? What was he doing? Why did and does God come and go? We could pursue that question, but we won’t now. We will, for now, confine ourselves to an assessment of God’s parenting.
A possible answer for this parental absence is that God had other matters that needed attention. These matters might have included creating something elsewhere. God might have been attending to the seemingly infinite number of living creatures who could not speak and were not as able to care for themselves—much less others—as humans like Adam and Eve were able to do. God would know how much there is to care for. It staggers our imaginations. There are the rhinoceros, the moth, the angleworm, the ova of lice, the mosquito, the robin, and the red Impatiens, just to mention a few. God’s work, it appears, is to care for all the things and beings we do not know about, as well as the considerable number we do know about. Maybe God made people who could speak so God could get some help. If God did not go away, there would be less resourcefulness and less help from the humans; and there would be less meaning to God’s presence.
God might have been, and still might be, spending some of the time away in play. God may have been communing with others (although we do not know of others who can speak) and playing with them, as God played with Adam and Eve. The truth is, neither God nor the narrator explain why God came and went in this story.
We must remember that this is, so far as we know, God’s first experience as a parent. Among human speakers, being a parent turns out to be a very mysterious and often difficult thing. If God’s experience as a parent was less than perfect, Adam and Eve’s first experience did not go well either. I can imagine few worse outcomes as a parent than that one of my sons would murder his brother. How sad Adam and Eve must have felt, how heartsick, and how filled with regrets. They must have wondered where they had gone wrong, what they might have done differently as parents.
God must have wondered about what he had done, too. Although God has had much more experience since then, God must still wonder, for in each life God resubmits to the very beginning and in the midst of new life and opportunity, risks the same mistakes again. This happens to every person, in each child. At least God’s first children, the ones God was directly responsible for as parent, did not murder anyone, I mean Adam and Eve.
It appears that Eve and Adam had great fun during God’s absences. They were busy naming and taking care of the Garden. They knew the joy of words, of understanding, of stories, of intimacy, of accomplishment, of being able to know what the other thought, and of telling each other their experiences. They had the power to appreciate. All this began with a word and flowered into consciousness with the word, “word,” the concept of words.
God and all creation are born again in the moment a young person discovers speech. God relives the experience with each new person.
Well, God did regret what had happened in God’s absence. God had been stolen from. Trust in the word had failed. False words entered in. But, false words could not be denied their opportunity. It became clear that the power of language had possibilities for other than good.
God realized right then, after questioning the fig-leaf-clothed-word-makers, that they needed some limits or things would fall apart. God blessed them, then, with what they considered to be curses (Genesis 3:16-19) and what humans, strangely, continue to think of as curses without giving them due thought. This amounts to thinking that the body is not a gift, that our passions are not a gift, and that because of death, life is not a gift.
Isn’t that absurd?