Learning to walk again… I have found this word picture to be a very helpful metaphor that creates in me an openness, a desire and a longing to embrace my personal spiritual recovery. This metaphor is rooted in the Christ story, particularly in the second Adam image found in Romans 5. By “second Adam”, I am referring to the Genesis narrative that tells the story of the original intention of God for humanity which was an intimate, seamless and a creative relationship with God. This image also refers to the tragedy of a fragmented, chasmic, fearful humanity imagining its existence apart from God which describes the roots of all that is referred to as sin. The second Adam invitation is that Jesus, the divine human, lived His life in an intimate, seamless, creative connection with God and has now re-offered it to humanity in the power of grace.
The Jesus story invites me into a renewed and renewing garden state where humanity, including me, gets to relearn the beautiful rhythms, the easy pace of walking with God, as He restores creation. The image in my mind is one of holding hands, the Creator and I, seeing everything again for the first time – it’s just this time I don’t feel afraid, I don’t have to control, I have nothing to hide from, I can engage every living thing, every inanimate thing, and be blessed by its soul.
But it seems to me that this walking with the Creator is very unnatural for me. For most of my life, I was taught how to cope with this world. I was taught that it was scary and I believed that pain was a curse and something to be avoided at all costs. These three apparent realities gave birth to what St. Paul calls my “flesh”, what psychology calls my “ego” and what I call the “intimidating voice” that wants me to believe is God, but I know is not God, because the voice is full of shame, insecurity and regret. And this is what I had, and continue to learn to let go of. If we stick with the metaphor of learning to walk again, it is coming to realise that all I have done so far is crawl and yet God in His love and grace for me has always ever imagined me walking with Her.
God has longed for the day when I would realise the invitation Jesus gave us in grace includes me in the abundance of the garden state. Simply, we are invited into the garden again where we dwell and tend and love everything that is, with God right beside us – all the time.
So, I think the common struggle of all humanity, including me, is coming to terms with the perceived harsh reality that everything I thought I knew, everything I was taught to believe and was worried about happening are all just perceptions of reality, rooted in the fall story of humanity and blind to the renewed garden stated that Christ has created. This has singularly been the greatest assault on my ego I have ever experienced. Coming to terms that I am simply a grown-up baby and my ego is trying to convince me that I am a big boy. This may sound humiliating to some. If it does, that’s just ego trying to avoid, trying to hold onto everything you think you have to hold onto to thrive in this world. But really Jesus’ definition of abundant living is better than any definition of thriving this world could ever offer us.
So my hope is that the metaphor of learning to walk again can be an invitation – an invitation to re-imagine, to enter the garden state in a way that propels you into spiritual recovery. One of the signs will be the ability to embrace your story with tenderness and redemptive love. Remember, you are just walking hand-in-hand in the garden.