Sunday, April 26, 2009
Eating From the Tree of Knowledge
When I was in first grade, I attended a small Lutheran school in the mountains of Utah. The school was a second home to me, as my father was the pastor and my mother was the kindergarten teacher. At that time, the church was using every available space to house the classrooms. The second through sixth grades held classes in a converted barn on the property. The kindergarten class was in a small room toward the back of the church. The first grade classroom was in the fellowship hall with temporary walls that could be opened up on Sunday mornings for coffee hour.
Each year our religious curriculum, like most parochial schools, began with the story of creation and then moved in Adam and Eve's fall into sin. I remember that my teacher, Mrs. Stuart, gave our class a project that we would display in the classroom for cofee hour. Each of the fifteen or so children was to take a portion of the story to illustrate. One child drew a picture of the sun, moon, and stars. Another children drew a picture of the plants God created. Another child drew a picture of Adam naming the animals.
We all finished our drawings and went to the teacher's desk to hand them in. But when I turned mine in, I noticed the warm-hearted eyes of my beloved teacher change to concern and dismay. You see, I had been given the part of the story where Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. And I was the only child who had drawn Adam and Eve anatomically correct. Unaware of what caused the change in my teacher when I turned my picture in, I went back to my little desk and began my reading lesson.
At home later that evening, my mother asked me to come into the living room for a talk. That was always the sign of something serious. Mrs. Stuart had shown her the drawing and asked her to speak to me about it. In my first grad vocabulary, I told my mother how Adam and Eve had no clothes. They didn't wear leaves like the other kids drew until after they ate the forbidden fruit! I was just drawing the real story. My mother chuckled and said I was right but the question came up about whether the minister's daughter's drawing could be hup up for the entire congregation to see. And this, unfortunately, is where my memory fades for I have no recollection of whether my drawing was hung up with those of my classmates. My only memory is of the tears I cried over not understanding what was wrong.
When I reflect on thies event in my young life, I am struck with how my own experience of the Bible story mimics the story itself. I had no shame about the drawing, had no understanding of what might make it "bad" until someone told me about it. And the moment I was made aware, I felt deeply humiliated. I wanted to cover up and hide away. I was embarassed, just like Adam and Eve were at discovering their own nakedness when their eyes were opened.
Children experience "eye-opening" discoveries regarding their behavior daily. Egocentric toddlers have no comprehension that toys in the classroom belong to everyone, not just them. When another child takes their toy, they might react aggressively by pushing or even biting because they don't have verbal skills to handle the situation. And because it works! The other child drops the toy and suddenly they have it back. It is not until an adult comes that they feel confused and shameful about their behavior. They didn't intend to hurt someone. They only want their toy. Yet despite their intention, a wrong was committed.
Appropriate actions and wise decisions can taught. Although we must continue to work with children on explaining and bringing light to their choices, we are given an additional message to share with children --- that through grace, we all are forgiven and made new. We don't need to sit in a global belief that we are bad. We can try to do better next time.
There are more drawings to draw...
Posted by Cori Lynn Berg at 1:52 PM