by Christine Sine
One of my fun yearly events is a class I teach on spirituality and gardening. It is a fun class, but one question asked by a student keeps intruding on 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 need 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 somehow affected 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.
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 our garden 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.
What Does Your Soul Long for?
So what does this have to do with what my soul longs for you may ask? Maybe it is the same with our souls. Like all of us I long for God to bless and not curse me, but maybe what I think of as a curse is actually a blessing in disguise just as it is in the garden.
What aspects of my personality do I see as a curse that are actually the blessings of God?
My memory is one. I have a photographic memory and absorb facts and figures like a sponge. My family found it embarrassing, my friends found it strange and men found me intimidating. I have lost count of the times I was told I thought like a man and not a woman. Often growing up I felt embarrassed, sometimes even ashamed of this aspect of my personality which so often kept me isolated and distanced from others. I tried to hide the uniqueness of who God had created me to be. It was very definitely a curse and not a blessing from my perspective.
Now I realize that so much I have accomplished in my life would have been impossible without that gift which I had for so long regarded as a curse. My ability to gather and process facts was really important as I developed the medical ministry for Mercy Ships. It has been just as important as I put together resource lists for this blog and even more important as I read and process the huge number of books I read every week. Even as I garden and write prayers and books, it is my memory and ability to retain and process facts and figures that has provided a platform for what I do.
Sometimes I feel that I suffer from verbal diarrhoea and that the quantity of what I process and write about is a little overwhelming for some. One of my friends jokingly told me one day that I need to develop a new blog – Godspace Light. But that no longer bothers me. I know that this is a gift that God has given me and I am grateful for it and humbled by the ways that God has used it to bless the lives of others.
What Blessings are Disguised as Curses?
What this makes me realize however is that all of us are blessed with gifts from God that we often begin seeing as curses. Maybe a disability like Tourette’s. Tom and I recently watched Front of the Class about a young teacher who has tourette’s syndrome. At the end of the film he too gives credit to his “curse” for being a wonderful gift in his life and making him all that God intends him to be.
Part of what prompted this post for me is talking to a friend of ours whose son has just been diagnosed as autistic. They were devastated, until they realized that the personality traits that labelled him as autistic are actually much sort after in high tech businesses.
Perhaps your curse is being born into poverty, of being abused as a child, or having an addiction to alcohol or drugs. These too God can redeem and transform into gifts that God can use to bring into being that new world of wholeness and abundance that God is in the process of bringing into being.
Even the curse of the tower of Babel and the confusion of languages, some see really as a blessing to keep languages and cultures alive. And God maintains those cultures at Pentecost by maintaining language diversity and making it possible for people to understand each other, something that I am sure adds much more richness to the kingdom of God.
So what do you think? My challenge to you today is to spend time in prayer and allow the spirit of God to identify your curse. What is it in your life that God wants to redeem and transform into a gift? Or what in your life has God already redeemed that you have never come back to God with gratitude and thankfulness.