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Thursday, September 8, 2011

In the beginning, part 3

But Sly Mystery knew in advance Lifesaver’s name would be forgotten.  “He will rule over you,” said Mystery to Lifesaver.  Mystery even knew his words to the woman would reinforce the curse.   “As it should be,” the man said.  “If Mystery said man will rule over woman, then man ought to rule over woman.”  Lifesaver balked, “But it’s a curse!” Still, the man didn’t catch Mystery’s ironic humor, even, or perhaps especially, when it was pointed out to him by the woman.

Even once Lifesaver caught Mystery’s irony, she still could not muster herself out of it.  After all, cunning Mystery was one step ahead of her and preceded the ruling curse with another: “you will desire your man.”  Lifesaver desired her man so much, she went to great lengths to capture him and keep him, and she found herself in a never-ending game of hide-and-seek.  Frustrated, Lifesaver turned to fairy tales, romance novels, and soap operas.  Meanwhile, she spent herself into debt on clothing and cosmetics  to lure her man into staying with her.  But she never lived happily ever after. 

In time, Mystery revealed his secret to Lifesaver: “Love me with all your heart.”  Jealous Mystery wanted Lifesaver to love him more than her man.  If she did, she could break her curse.

But Mystery was no quicker at romance than the earthly man he created.  “Love me,” whispered Mystery, and then he hid far in the distance for ages at a time.  Even the man could pick up a telephone more quickly than Mystery would send a wink.  “Who are you, Mystery?” Lifesaver asked.  “How can I love you if I can’t see you or know you?”  At least, if she chased him persistently enough, she could see her man, listen to him, touch him, and, best of all, be touched by him.  But Mystery went into hiding.  How could she love a being so inaccessible?  And how could Mystery possibly expect her to love him above her physical and ever so handsome man?




“To the woman he said,
‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbirth;
with pain you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”
(Genesis 3:16)

When, nearly twenty years after becoming a Christian, I discovered the additional words to Eve after the well-known ones of childbirth, I was astonished.  The final words struck like a javelin into my gut.  But, thankfully, not one to have personally suffered under this most grievous curse, I spent the majority of my contemplation over the hidden middle: “your desire will be for your husband” or, more generally, “for your man.”

“Desire” in Genesis 3:16 is the Hebrew teshuquh, which is found only three times in the Bible: for Eve’s teshuquh for her man, for sin’s teshuquh for Cain (Gen 4:7), and for the Beloved’s teshuquh for his beloved (Song of Soloman 7:10).  Three unique applications indeed!  But when we look into the meaning of the word, we can see how all three scriptures can apply to it.   It is coded by Strong’s as H8669, meaning “desire, longing,” and it  comes from the root, shuwq (7783), which means “to run after, to desire, to long for anything.”  Just as sin was “running after” Cain and the Beloved was “running after” his beloved, the woman is “running after” her man.

When I came across this stunning scripture, I intuitively understood the paradox of “you will desire your man” as a “curse,” rather than the blessing we might expect it to be.  As a curse, it initially seems odd: What could be wrong with a woman desiring her husband?  Shouldn’t that be a blessing.

Certainly.  But not if it trumps the first command: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut 6:5).  The traditional church would likely come forward with the easy, pat answer, “Well, then, love God.  You just need to love God more.”  We mystics smile, nod, and then shake our heads as we sadly move along and acknowledge how elusive such love is.

So this great quandary the woman finds herself in as she seeks to love God above earthly man is a fitting picture of the spiritual quest of us all.  In this quest, the Lord romances us, astonishes us, sends us into spurts of ecstasy, and then disappears for long stretches at a time.  Jesus warned his disciples this would happen: “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it” (Luke 17:22). It is, therefore, the life-long struggle that regularly evades us all.  It not only calls upon us to patiently persevere in a quest acquainted with dark nights, but it also calls upon the Lord to grace us with his presence from time to time.  Girl meets Boy.  Girl loses boy.  Girl waits and waits and waits for Boy to return . . .




Lifesaver wasn’t the only one to wonder who Mystery was, where she could find him, how she could love him, or who she herself was.  While Lifesaver toiled to catch Earth human in her own forgetfulness, Earth human continued to toil the ground in his . . .

Stay tuned for part 4 . . .

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