Friday, March 11, 2011

Beauty and Consumption

My spiritual father once said to me that Adam and Eve misused the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden when they ate it’s fruit.  The contemplation of the tree was the means by which Adam and Eve were to grow in their knowledge of God, not by eating it.  
When Satan tricked Eve into thinking about the tree as if it were the same as any other tree in the Garden and then suggested that God was keeping something good from her, Eve ate from the tree.  Not only did Eve go astray by doubting God’s love and disobeying his command; but before she picked and ate the fruit, she began to go astray when she started to see the fruit of the tree as merely something desired by her, as merely something to be consumed for her own benefit or pleasure.
For those of us born outside Eden, it is hard to imagine any other way to look at the world around us than in terms of how it can be used or consumed to benefit or please us.  
We do, however, have traces of Eden-like perception left in us.  When we look at any created thing and appreciate beauty in it, we are, I think, experiencing traces of pre-fall perception. To see beauty is to begin to contemplate, to begin to perceive the word of God in the creature brought into being by a Word.  
Learning to pay attention to and value beauty without consuming it is part of salvation, the return to Paradise.

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