Exiles, east of Eden…

My mate Graham posted this today- a lovely Martin Joseph song that I had not heard before;

The song plugs in to quite a few new and old thoughts/conversations. Time for an old poem I think, written for a Greenbelt worship event;

There is this story from the beginning of us
Of brothers who started to measure their relative success
It began with small things –
the domestic injustices, the long silences

One brother loved the wild places
The freedom of the forest – to hunt the deer and gather the low fruit
He could bear no borders

The other was a man of industry
He fenced the land
and turned the earth to fields
And the land was bountiful
His store houses were overflowing
In this he was vulnerable

Somehow these things became a wall between them –
Leading to violence
And death.

.

You are placed under a curse and can no longer farm the soil. It has soaked up your brother’s blood as if it had opened its mouth to receive it when you killed him. If you try to grow crops, the soil will not produce anything; you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.

And Cain said to the Lord, This punishment is too hard for me to bear. You are driving me off the land and away from your presence. I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth, and anyone who finds me will kill me.

But the Lord answered,
No. If anyone kills you, seven lives will be taken in revenge. So the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who met him not to kill him. And Cain went away from the Lord’s presence and lived in a land called –

Wandering…
…which is east of Eden

.
We think we were the first to ever feel

The first to dream of higher places
The first to fall
The first to scream at sharp things
The first to feel that indescribable sting
called love

The first to make music
The first to feel shame shrinking
our callow souls
The first to seek the promised land
The first to eat from the tree
Called puberty

We were not

Long before light could be conjured
by a switch
Men and women sat around fires and
dreamed of starflight
They rose high above the flat old earth
Pregnant with new possibilities
Favour rested on their fields

But every generation grows and leaves home
We make and break and forge our own magnificence
And these palaces we build need solid doors
To protect what is mine
From what you will never have
And we wander – marked like Cain
East of Eden

Sometimes it seems that you and me
Have spent forever
Looking for a way
Back

A place called wandering…

I have been thinking about our Greenbelt worship event- which will be entitled ‘Homesick’. One of the key themes emerges from a discussion about the nature of we humans- made a little lower than the angels, neither fully flesh nor completely spirit. An amalgam of both- or perhaps one on a journey to becoming the other.

It set me thinking about what it might mean for we Christians- how we live in the presence of the immanence- how our present is always lived in the belief that there is another reality- which Jesus described confusingly as ‘The Kingdom of God’.

I wonder if there is something in this life that will always be unfulfilled- always be tinged with nuance and compromise. This is no bad thing- it is the way of the pilgrim- how we learn through surprise encounters and hopeful longing as much as by certainty and knowing.

I came across this passage from the book of Genesis that says it as well as anything-

10 (C)Then the Lord said,
Why have you done this terrible thing? Your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground, like a voice calling for revenge.11 You are placed under a curse and can no longer farm the soil. It has soaked up your brother’s blood as if it had opened its mouth to receive it when you killed him.12 If you try to grow crops, the soil will not produce anything; you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.

13 And Cain said to the Lord,
This punishment is too hard for me to bear.14 You are driving me off the land and away from your presence. I will be a homeless wanderer on the earth, and anyone who finds me will kill me.

15 But the Lord answered,
No. If anyone kills you, seven lives will be taken in revenge. So the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who met him not to kill him.16 And Cain went away from the Lord’s presence and lived in a land called
Wandering, which is east of Eden.