The Garden of Eden and the Gift Of Naming
Table of Contents
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Filling the cosmos with planets, moons, and stars. Forming this very world out of nothing and then filling it with all sorts of life. Animals that roam the ground, fish that swim through the sea, and birds that soar through the air. Giving us trees to sit under for shade, mountains to gaze upon their beauty, a breeze that cooly kisses our face, and even sunsets that leave us in mystical awe.
And In the beginning, God filled the earth with people. Starting with some dust from the ground, God formed man, breathing the breath of life into him. And then God shared the act of creating with the man, telling him to name the animals and birds around him.
But as Adam named horses, and dogs, and eagles, and everything in between, it was clear that none of them would bring Adam the sort of life and joy that another person would. You see, to name something is to form a relationship with that something. But the companionship we find in dogs, in horses, and every other wild thing across creation can never compare to the companionship we find in other people created in God’s image.
So God caused the man to fall asleep, and formed a woman out of his rib, forever connecting humanity to one another for all time. And God named the woman Eve, meaning she would be the mother of all human life, and perhaps that’s why a mother’s love is so special. She has a unique place in amongst creation.
Through love, God would go on to give Adam and Eve the ability to make decisions for themselves and they would go on to make some bad decisions breaking what God had invited them into. God had invited them to create with him by allowing them to give names and they had marred this gift. But God wouldn’t give up on them. He’d make a way for them. And one day, when God makes everything new again, he’ll even give them new names.
God has created the heavens and the earth, created a universe pregnant with life and invites us into the mystery of it all. Giving Adam the task of naming the world around him, God sees that there is no companion suitable for him in all of the animals and birds that he names. So out of the man, God forms a woman from the man’s rib, humankind forever connected to one another from that point forward. They would go on to have children, naming them one by one, filling this world with life, but also death, until the day comes that God gives us all new names when he makes the heavens and the earth new again.
The Setting God has created the heavens and the earth and planted a Garden where humankind will find their start. Everything is good. Even in the man and woman’s nakedness, there is no shame.
The Characters God who breathed life into the world. A man who was told to work and take care of the garden. A woman who brings the man companionship.
The Tension God has given Adam the task of naming the animals. To name something is to form a relationship with that something. But of all the things Adam named, none of them was a suitable companion for him.
The Resolution As amazing and good as everything was in the Garden of Eden, God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone. God forms a woman from the man’s rib, bringing them an inseparable connectedness.
The Through Line From the very beginning, the Garden of Eden is a symbol of God’s perfect union with humanity, marked by care of one another and care of creation around us.
Why has this story endured? This is a story of beginnings. We all ask the question how did I get here? How did what we know as the world start? Why does life even matter? For those who believe in God, we begin finding our answers in this account of the Garden of Eden. God placed us here as an act of love. From the very beginning, we were created to take care of each other. We were created to take care of grow this world. We even find meaning in the act of naming, an act of establishing relationship, an act that connects us to God who named the world into existence.
What is true for them then that is still true for us today? We still need each other for companionship. Taking care of and honoring creation still brings us life. Calling each other by name brings relationship.
How does this story help us love God? Life is eternally purposeless outside of God. We were given the gift of each other and creation. The realization that we’re created in the image of Love should motivate us to pursue that love and we pursue that love by learning how to love the things God has placed around us.
How does this story help us love others? There’s a connectedness, illustrated by a rib, that ties all of us together. When we deny or do harm to that connectedness we do harm to ourselves. Loving others is actually in our best interests.
What does this story tell us about who God is? God names us. Through Adam, gives us the opportunity to name, and it’s in this act that God invites us to partner with him in the creative process of the world.