Truth is, I returned to the Catholic Church burdened with an issue: how do I reconcile my eternal gratitude for Eve for giving humanity free will and the collective ingratitude for the same woman for the same reason by the same institution I was about to re-enter?
Like my hero Prometheus who gave us fire, Eve hasn’t stopped getting punished by the world that exists because of her. I haven’t stopped asking why. With the same words I asked of L five years ago on the first of our handful of endings, would you rather worship because you don’t know anything else, or worship because you chose to? If I were God, I’d be more pleased with someone who made the conscious decision to love me – despite and because of – than a man who loved me by default. I was churchless five years ago, but I believed in an intelligent God. And my intelligent God – an architect, an engineer, a biologist, a zoologist, a doctor, a teacher, an author, and everything else rolled into one – would never wish His people to remain ignorant. If we were born in Paradise, what then do we have to strive for?
Yet, men continue to punish Eve for their very existence; even for the fact because of her frailty they have a chance to choose God with their own free will. This isn’t confined to the Catholic Church, however. L was a Protestant.
L blamed me. For him, I was sent by the devil as a test that he failed. “The spirit is indeed willing,” he recited, “but the flesh is weak.” He was going to be a pastor. I protested, “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heavens. I believe this, right now, belongs to us.” He looked at me disdainfully, as if he wanted to keep the Bible to himself, as if a girl who reveres the Mother has no right to know about the Word.
He blamed me when I just sat there and he helped himself. He questioned why his test had to be a love without conditions, without judgments, without limits, without questions, without the desire to bind him.
I loved him like a tree loves a bird. I would look up at him, adore his beauty, and quietly remember the affection he once gave. I loved him but I would not ask him to stay or to return. That is not love. That is need. Need is insecurity. A tree does not need a bird to become a tree.
Father Peter said love is a commitment but I disagree.
Love is not a commitment. The best kind of love is the love you cannot keep, and the best way to love is to love with your all, despite and because you know he belongs to a destiny with which there is no sense to compete. Love him by protecting him, not from the violent weathers or stronger predators, but from yourself. Protect him from your ego, fears, and selfishness.
Love him now and let him fly. If he is meant for the clouds, be happy that he is there because you let go. That is your love up there. If it is God’s will, he might be back. But do not worry your heart or waste your youth over what might. Let the earth nourish you, welcome others into the safety of your leaves and branches, look up to sky, and try to reach as high as you can. Then if God permits your head will touch the clouds. Then you will understand why the clouds mean everything.
Do not think that you have lost love. You have lost a person but love, once you feel it, will always be yours.
Let go. Of him and of yourself.
If love is scary, freedom is worse. Truth is, of the tree and the bird, the bird has more to lose. He doesn’t know where to go, or if he really should go. He doesn’t know where he’s heading or if he can still go back once he realizes his place isn’t up there.
Freedom means confusion. If your wings are for flight and you do not fly, do you disrespect your Creator? Or can’t you make yourself useful down here, carve your own destiny?
Surely, you can. This is why you are free. This is why Eve paid the price for something she did not intend to do: to give you and me the power to decide for ourselves.
Faced with this free will, it is easier to blame Eve for the uncertainty of the future and the possibility of failure. If she didn’t eat the fruit, life would have been uncomplicated. I would know exactly my role and I would do it – no more thinking, no more confusion, no more feeling and inflicting pain because I do not have to make decisions. But Eve had bitten of the fruit and shared this with her husband. Freedom is here. Blaming Eve after thousands of years makes no sense. And what satisfaction would you feel doing the right thing when you do not know that it is right?
You, as the receiver of that gift (or curse, if that’s how you intend to see it) has to decide for yourself. If you go, you might realize you aren’t strong enough to make it to your destination. A hawk may snatch you on the way. You could be shot by a human. You could realize the flock had always been in the wrong direction. Or you could reach the clouds and find what you’re looking for. Similarly, if you stay, you could get hunted down. You could secretly envy the flying and be bitter until you die. Through the years you could turn into a flightless bird like a chicken, a quail, or a peacock. Or you could discover something you can do down here nobody before you has ever considered, carve your own niche, and be happy. Only God knows.
Freedom is both a gift and a punishment. How you use it is up to you.
I could’ve loved L without asking for anything in return. I could’ve loved him from afar, in the silence of my heart. But he came to me. He took the love. He gave what I didn’t ask for. And when he got scathed, he blamed me. He said I was from the devil. He said I was a test to his strength. But Timothy said I was not. Timothy said L was weak because he just was.
And there’s nothing wrong if you are weak. Man up and don’t blame anyone for it.