"Eve" by Madeleine L’Engle


Eve and Mary* by Sr. Grace Remington, O.C.S.O

“Eve”
When we left the garden we knew that it would be
forever.
The new world we entered was dark and strange.
Nights were cold.
We lay together for warmth, and because we were
afraid
of the unnamed animals, and of the others;
we had never
known about the giants, and angels gone wild.
We had not been told
of dwarves and elves; they teased us; we hid
whenever they played.

Adam held me. When my belly grew taut and
began to swell
I didn’t know what was happening. I thought it was
the beginning
of death, the very first death. I clung to Adam and
cried.
As I grew bigger something within me moved.
One day I fell
and the pains started. A true angel came and
pushed the grinning
creatures back. Adam helped. There was a tearing.
I thought I’d died.
Instead, from within me came a tiny thing, a new
creature,
red-faced, bellowing, mouth groping for my breast.
This was not death, but birth, and joy came to my
heart again.
This was the first-born child. How I did laugh and
sing!
But from this birth came death. He never gave me
any rest.
And then he killed his brother. Oh, my child. Oh,
my son Cain.
I watched from then on over every birth,
seeing in each babe cruelty ready to kill
compassion.
For centuries the pattern did not change. Birth
always meant death.
Each manchild who was born upon the longing
earth
in gratefulness and joy brought me only a fresh
ration
of tears. I had let hate into the world with that first
breath.

Yet something made me hope. Each baby born
brought me hurrying, bringing, as in the old tales,
a gift
looking – for what? I went to every slum and cave
and palace
seeking the mothers, thinking that at least I could
warn
their hearts. Thus perhaps the balance might shift
and kindness and concern replace self-will and
malice.

So I was waiting at that extraordinary intersection
of Eternity and Time when David’s son (Adam’s,
too)
was born. I watched the Incarnate at his mother’s
breast
making, by his humble, holy birth the one possible
correction
of all that I by disobedience had done. I knelt and
saw new
Adam, and I cried, “My son!” and came at last to
rest.
— Madeleine L’Engle

Poem Source: Magnificat Magazine

*Eve and Mary, reprinted with the permission of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey. For background on the image, and link to a lovely choral piece which grew from it see here.

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • http://burketokirk.blogspot.com Tertium Quid

    I saw this too. It is more than lovely.

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  • dymphna

    I’ve been searching on Google for a good painting of Eve and Mary. Strange but it seems like the theme wasn’t touched on much.

  • Sal

    Was hoping you’d re-post this picture- thank you! And the poem is extraordinary.
    There’s an illustration similar to this in the St. Andrew’s missal for the feast of the Immaculate Conception, but not nearly as touching.

  • Brad

    Eva is Ave reversed. Hmm…

  • DeSalesia

    How beautiful, and timely.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    Good point by dymphna; strange that more hasn’t been made of the Eve/Virgin Mary contrast. It’s a nice poem but a little too prosey (in my humble opinion) in spots. But the theme is enticing.

  • anniebird

    Oh, how I wish the sisters would make this painting available as a notecard or an image of some sort. Your addition of the poem is wonderful, and I’m so grateful to be pointed towards this beautiful contemplation of the Blessed Mother and Eve.

    [The card IS available, with Sr. Columba's poem inside, but the Nuns advise me that they are so busy with candy-making and shipping, that the only way to purchase the cards is to visit their shop in Mississippi. Or order them outside of the season, I guess! :-) -admin]

  • Susan Cole

    how positively wonderful! i must share this with others!

  • Maureen

    Well, there are plenty of portrayals of Eve, but she’s usually naked or covered only in skins, and she’s usually with Adam, and she’s usually backing some kind of Crucifixion scene when she’s with Mary. Or she’s one of about a zillion patriarchs and matriarchs in the Harrowing of Hell, and so it’s her relationship to Jesus and Adam that’s being shown.

    Verbally, of course, there’s no end of dramatic and lyrical poetry about Eve and Mary. But usually they came up as counterpointed speeches among others, not directly talking to each other.

  • http://www.sienafallsmedia.com/gems Jessica

    I love it — thanks so much for sharing it! I will need to talk with the nuns in January!

  • ROGER AND JANE OF WALLA 2

    JANE AND I READ THIS THE OTHER NIGHT AT THE EVENING OFFICE. A VERY GIFTED WRITER AND A HOLY WOMAN. WE LITERALLY ‘SAT AT HER FEET’ A NUMBER OF YEARS AGO AT A CONFERENCE IN ALASKA. INTERESTINGLY, THIS SELECTION WAS POSTED IN THE MAGNIFICAT ON THE EVE OF HER BIRTHDAY ALTHOUGH SHE NOW REJOICES WITH THE SAINTS AND ANGELS. WE READ IT TEARFULLY AND JOYFULLY.

    ROGER & JANE

  • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ Christian

    This is terrific! I expect to use this image this year, and every following year in my 6thgrade catechism class.

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  • Dante

    What a beautiful poem!

    I shared it with my friends.


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