In opening chapters of the Book of Genesis, after Adam sinned, Yahweh is heard asking Adam “where are you?”
It appears that God is clueless about Adam’s whereabouts. God seems to have lost sight of Adam, and is trying to ‘find’ him. The ensuing response from Adam was that he was afraid of God because he heard the sound of God in the garden. And that is very interesting.
Where was Adam? In reality, he was right inside of Eden, which was God’s place, where all was provided for, and where there was abundance. Eden was also God’s splendid creation, where man and woman were the crown of his creation. It’s not that God didn’t know where Adam was that he asked him that seemingly simple question. Rather, it was Adam who didn’t know where he was. And that was the crux (and has since been) of humankind’s bane.
When we are not clear about how loved we are, how secure we are held in God’s loving plan, we will run all about trying to find new thrills and spills in order to justify our existence. And as any sociologist will be able to tell you, this is a never ending, never fully satisfying and an always falling-short-of-complete-fulfillment enterprise of the human heart. In Rev Fr Rolheiser’s column on the internet last week he gave very clear examples of how our human mind and heart are on this never-ending quest for more and more, always afraid that there’s not enough. But that is illusory.
It was Adam’s fear that there was also not enough in Eden that caused him to stretch out his hand to take from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And it has been evil’s intent to always make us insecure and want more and more. And this brings me back to God’s first question to Adam “where are you?”
Adam didn’t realize that he was in Eden, where God’s providence was in abundance, and that there was no need of any fear. Adam didn’t know how good he had it, and to Eve’s discredit, neither did she.
Someone once said wisely that the difference between Christianity and other religions can be summed up this way – almost all other religions will have us human beings looking for God, but Christianity’s unique feature has God looking for us. Understood this way, then it opens us to the reality that we are in God’s ambit of love, and our struggles and problems are really precipitated by the fact that like Adam, we too don’t know where we are. Christianity wakes us up to the fact that God has been looking for us, and that we have been playing hide-and-go-seek with him.
What marks a holy person is evidenced that he or she has a certain confidence in God’s prevailing presence in the world despite the many evils that are present. Any saint whose life guides us on our way to heaven becomes a beacon of hope amidst the pains and turmoil that none of our lives are spared of. Our pride and quest for independence has us going our way without wanting any help. This will only get us deeper into our messes, causing us to ‘hide’ as Adam did because he was afraid of God, who was never meant to be feared in the first place.
In a real life analogy, I was driving in one of Singapore’s tunnels just last week, and this tunnel (KPE) is notorious for its may speed cameras that will photograph cars going above 70km/h. As it was in the middle of the afternoon, there were not many cars in the tunnel, and I was happily cruising along, not realizing that my foot was getting heavy on the pedal. A glance at the speedometer showed to my horror that I was hitting 85km/h. Instinctively I slowed down and saw that with no vehicles in front of me, there is a tendency to speed without even realizing it. What I did then was to make sure that I was driving behind a car that was keeping the speed limit.
It was then that I saw that even in our lives, if the moral road ahead of us is totally free and open, we have every tendency to speed out of control, to our detriment. But if we make that choice to ‘drive’ behind holy people and saints, not only are we assured of where we are heading towards, but also at the same time, we will be travel at a safe speed. They who go before us, lead the way, and remind us like Adam needed reminding, ‘where we are’ in God’s loving plan.