A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at a seminary class about spirituality and gardening. It was a fun class, but one question asked by a student keeps intruding in my mind. Didn’t God curse the creation after the fall? he asked, implying that it no longer reflected the glory of God and that we no longer needed to respect and look after it.
As I read through Genesis 3 which is the basis for this belief, I am struck by God’s amazing care for the humans who disobeyed him. Yes the ground was cursed (Gen 3:17-19), but it was not God who cursed it, it was the consequence of Adam’s sin. The natural created world was some how affected by by the human fall into sin and is therefore no longer paradise. Brambles and weeds grew. Human toil to produce food and care for creation increased. Nowhere however is there any implication that we are absolved from our responsibility to care for creation.
What has fascinated me in the last few weeks is a contemplation of the thorns, the thistles, and the weeds that seem to be a part of the consequences of the human fall. Some of them produce the most delicious and nutritious food we can eat, as we can see in this video
Take the humble dandelion for instance. Its leaves are often used in salads. Its root for medicinal tea and its flowers in jams and jelly. It helps break up the soil and draws nutrients up from deep within the soil. It is an amazing and valuable plant. Read more about dandelions and links to recipes here
Then there is the blackberry which grows wild prolifically throughout the Pacific NW. Its fruit blesses us with delicious pies and jams. Every year in August Tom and I travel to Mayne Island Canada with our Canadian friends Tom and Kim Balke, for a few days holiday. One of the delights of our trip is picking blackberries and wild apples to make blackberry apple crumble.
Snails are another pest that can be a delicacy for many. Ironically some people love escargot and spend big bucks to buy them and the complain about the snails that destroy their gardens.
And in many Asian countries, tarantulas, crickets and ants are all considered delicacies.
It seems to me that part of the curse we suffer from is our inability to recognize the abundance and hospitality of God in the garden that is our earth. God is a generous God who invites us to a banquet feast, not just in the eternal world to come but here in this world too. Often all we need to do is reach out and recognize the gift and accept God’s amazing hospitality.
Interesting post. Thanks for sharing. I can see the students point about creation being cursed, but I always thought that to meant that it would just take more work for man to yield fruit from it. However, as you showed here, you are able to take even the items that seem to ruin creation, snails and use them in another way. Amen
Thanks Luke. My view would be the same as yours. I was a little taken aback by the student’s question, though I should not have been as it is not the first time I have heard our utilitarian view of creation justified by making the distinction between the garden God created and the cursed creation (not my view let me hasten to add) we now live in the midst of.
My view would be similar to yours – it just means there is more toil involved, though often we even make that into a bigger job than it needs to be. Our current understanding – mainly through the permaculture movement is that the less we till and disturb the soil the better it is.
Luke, I am sorry I hit the reply button before I had finished. It is my growing conviction that God’s intention is transformation and renewal of creation not destruction. Maybe that needs to begin with transforming our view of pests – maybe we need to renew our understanding of their purpose.
I love how Paul even says that the creation itself is in great anticipation for the curse to be lifted. When all will be made new!