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Friday, June 11, 2010

I Am Eve

I Am Eve

Eve means life. Adam named the woman Eve because she would be the mother of all the living.

But Adam and Eve rebelled against the ultimate Life-Giver, and the Mother of All the Living—and all the mothers of the living to follow her—now has that life-giving experience tainted by death. Now there is great pain in childbearing.

I’ve often thought that the pain in childbearing mentioned in Genesis 3 is not so specific to refer simply to the actual labor pains themselves, though that would qualify. I tend to think that all the pains of motherhood—barrenness, miscarriage, birth defects, loss of a child—are examples of that pain, as is watching your children mature through hard lessons, to fall and have to get up again, to hurt and long for truth that they must wrestle with themselves. Mary, the Ultimate Eve, had her own heart pierced with the proverbial sword, and every life-giver since has felt it alongside her.

I am now experiencing a difficult recovery from surgery. Though not life-threatening, the initial diagnosis was shocking to me. A part of the result of this surgery is the certainty that I will not again carry children in my own body. Am I less Eve, less life-giver, as a result? It is a question I have asked.

As I've been thinking on this state of being, it came to mind for me from a Bible study many years ago that the role of woman in giving life is not simply a matter of producing children. I reflected today on those dear friends I have known who have not been able to have their own families, either due to the gift of singleness, or­­ barrenness, or loss. Are these women not also still Eve? I look at the actions of their lives—the ministry to others, the sharing of their gifts, the words of encouragement they have spoken, the effect they’ve had on other children they have come alongside to support and nurture. They infuse life into the hurt and the weak and the immature and the suffering. This is Eve. This is mothering.

Today, a remarkable thing happened, and this whole idea of life-giving as being something broader and more significant than simply child-bearing literally exploded for me.

Earlier this week, a friend brought me a huge and lovely bouquet of StarGazer Lilies. Oh, how I understand StarGazer Lilies. A double image of the Trinity­­­ is represented by two sets of petal threesomes, one superimposed on the other, making the six-sided shape of the Star of David—the symbol of mankind—almost reaching perfection, and yet in mystical union with the Godhead. On the outside, the trumpet-shaped flowers are purely white, without blemish. But look inside, and you see the bright red speckled interior, as if they have been opened up and sprinkled with blood. Now so purified and sealed, each one lifts its perfect trumpet heavenward to stare open and fully exposed at the stars, awaiting the glorious reappearing of our Lord.

These flowers were brought to me cut from the plant. I placed them in a vase of water to prolong their inevitable demise, to enjoy their beauty even while I waited for their death. But these cut flowers somehow didn’t behave according to the natural way of things since the fall.

Aaron’s rod was a dead stick, but to show God’s resurrection power, it budded and produced almond blossoms and leaves. It’s a promise to all who come after and believe.

And so, it seems , it is with my StarGazer Lilies. Today, rather than shriveling and dropping petals, one lily on that cut stem has burst forth with vitality and fertility. It still seeks to bring new life.

What am I to take from this? I marvel at the possibility that this is a message for me, the one who just last week was cut and so, I thought, redefined. But also touched by the Holy Spirit and designed to be in relationship and fellowship while I await his glorious reappearing. Because I am so blessed, I can still bring life and nurture and healing.

Because I am Eve.

--Rebecca Cochrane, June 2010

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