He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mold,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth opens on mist,
to find itself arrested in the net of alien, word-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet and penny-masks it’s eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.
– Rowan Williams
Eve with a longing hand. Outstretched. Reaching toward a promise. A beautiful yet tragic symbol of a deep, significant Truth. Eve, ensnared by her own mistake. An evil, malicious snake that once seemed wise and appealing coiled around her ankle, now having a grip on life itself, happily bringing death and despair in his wake. All she had to do was give him permission. And then all mankind was trapped.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
All he did was propose a question, craftily worded, creating a new vision; a vision of chaos and death. He hid it in an deceitful shell that inserted a snare of doubt while appealing to her pride.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
The cataclysm that was man wrenching himself from his Creator God. It is not humanly possible to imagine the jolt of pain that went through the heart of our Lord in this moment. His all-knowing nature foresaw it, but that wouldn’t lessen the heartbreak of that instant. Sin entered the heart of Man and now there was only one option to bring him back.
But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Thus begins the pursuit.
So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”
A promise of a massive redemption. A reassurance from our Creator even just moments after betraying Him. An offspring, a baby. Not just any baby, but an offspring of Eve that would destroy the snake’s deceit once and for all. Once again giving Man the option of pursuit of God.
A green root of life shooting forth from a bleak background. Black representing the death and decay which encompasses all that is separated from God. Golden life springing forward and once again bringing hope and regeneration. Redemption is near as our Lord takes the form of man and enters the womb of Mary, a regular woman. Someone’s sister, daughter, or cousin.
These golden words were prophesied from the beginning of everything material. God spoke it to his fallen children just minutes after they were torn apart by greed and pride. A loving Father delicately calling, “I will bring you back. Just as I planned, before I even created you.”
The beauty and the tragedy of this story is so wonderfully captured, as God gifts us with the expression of art through culture to express His image beyond what can be communicated with just words. Every one of us has a piece of artistic gift inside of us so that when we come to His table, we can each contribute one more bit of picture that is God Himself. He is so infinitely complex and deep, profound and immeasurable.
He created us to bear His image and reflect it back to Him in glory and praise. When Man fell, that mirror was shattered and the earth was covered in darkness under the curse of sin. But through His sacrifice He blesses us with the privilege of once again being His image bearers, despite our falling short. Through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, our abilities and inabilities are no longer worth looking at. It is all a gift to be enjoyed in the sake of He who created us.
Paintings by Rachel Justice
Words by Brittanie Richendollar