Click to enlargeEve, Mother of All the Living.

Most of us know the story of Adam and Eve. In scripture, we read that God created Eve from one of Adam's ribs to be his helper. The couple lived like happy children in the Garden of Eden, caring for the peaceable animals and eating the abundant fruits of paradise. They were naked as the creatures they nurtured.

Only one thing was forbidden: the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. If they ate that, God warned them, they would surely die.

A serpent tempted Eve to disobey, scoffing at her fears. "You surely shall not die," he said. "Your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Yielding to temptation, Eve ate a bite and shared the fruit with Adam. Instantly, their world was transformed. For the first time, they saw that they were naked. Ashamed, they sewed loin coverings of fig leaves, and hid from God in guilty fear.

God soon discovered what had happened. Adam blamed Eve for tempting him; Eve blamed the serpent. However, God's anger was terrible, his judgment swift. First clothing them with skins of animals, he had the cherubim drive them out into the Real World with a flaming sword. From now on, Adam would earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Eve would bear her children in pain, and would be ruled by her husband---though she would still desire him. As for the serpent, he was condemned to crawl upon his belly and to be forever hated by the woman and her seed.

Beyond Eden, Adam and Eve learned to live as adults instead of children. Eve bore two sons, Cain and Abel, and began a long line of descendants, culminating in the birth of Jesus Christ and beyond.

Was Eve simply a weak, disobedient woman, we can blame for unleashing sin and death in a Fallen World? No. I believe she also possessed essential qualities that she passed on to all of her daughters, including you and me. She was interested in practical provision for her loved one (the fruit was "good to eat.") She loved beauty ("it was a delight to the eyes"), and she aspired to knowledge ("it was desirable to make one wise.")

While patriarchs have judged Eve harshly, what woman can look at Eve, Mother of All the Living as Adam called her, and not confess that we are just like her? Curious, nurturing and deeply loving, Eve is the eternal feminine.

We may follow the ancient priests and scribes who demonized Eve, and laid all the woes of humankind at her doorstep. But if she precipitated our expulsion from the Garden, she also passed on the tools for our human journey: curiosity, the willingness to take a risk, a loving heart, a hunger for beauty and knowledge. There is much power in those spirit-filled gifts. (Story on back of card.)

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