By Lynn Domina —
Difference, Glorious Difference
We could have been alike. By “we” I mean all of us. We could have been imagined into being as multitudes of the same creature, each one of us identical, our DNA exactly the same, our appearances distinct only because that one spent more time in the sun, this one ingested less calcium as an infant, the other one failed to catch a ball and so has a scar on his cheek. We could have been called to duplicate each other in a preference for oranges over pears, basketball over football, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over Jeopardy. Instead, we’re unique, our skin bronze or olive or ivory, our voices rumbling or breezy or hushed, our dominant responses patience or fear or nonchalance.
What was God thinking? Life would be so much easier if we all wore the same size shoe and so didn’t have to spend half a morning wandering from store to store, searching for a pair that was narrow enough at the heel and wide enough at the toes. If our taste buds were all the same, well-meaning friends could stop trying to foist brussel sprouts on us, convinced that in this recipe, we’d come to love them. Ditto tofu. Ditto oysters. And what was God thinking, creating us all so different and yet so opinionated? We argue about baseball teams, cookie recipes, whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son or only from the Father, daylight savings time, guns, beer, abortion, rock and roll or rap, and who makes the best pancakes. Why didn’t God just create us as more similar and more agreeable?
As a writer myself, as someone who enjoys bringing poems and stories into being, creating something out of—if not nothing, then language alone, I appreciate the pleasure of creation. I like to imagine God’s joy and astonishment every time God brought something new into being—a three-toed sloth, a hippopotamus, a flowering cactus. The color blue and the color green and the color teal. Cinnamon, fennel, turmeric. People with freckles, people who can curl their tongues, people with bushy eyebrows. What diversity I imagine God thinking, what fun. When God called everything good, maybe God was thinking only about morality, but I think God was filled not only with satisfaction but with delight, observing all of creation, the yellow and purple, the light and darkness, the males and females. God called it very good our Bibles tell us, but I think God meant, “This is great!”
But, alas, of course, arguments ensued. Adam, Eve, the serpent, and their short debate followed by that first juicy bite of a Granny Smith. Cain, Abel, the grain, the flocks, Cain’s left hook, Adam’s corpse. If only God had created us to be alike rather than different, maybe we’d all still be living in paradise. Perhaps all this diversity is just a foolish result of a foolish decision.
Or not. Perhaps, as is so often true, we’re the fools. Some of us see difference and feel fear. Some of us feel anger. Some of us feel disgust. Others of us feel surprise or excitement or wonder. Let’s be like those people. God called all of creation good. Let’s receive it that way. Good. Good. Good.