It was the purpose from the beginning – that we would live free in the image of Freedom and nothing would entangle us.
I think God must have sang the world into motion, like glory breaking with sunrise and peace falling with its set. Music. Dancing. Freedom. I’ve heard songs at daybreak when all the house is quiet but the world is waking loud, and I can’t help but believe that heaven is filled with those sounds.
What could our first parents know of freedom, though? Living free yet not aware of it, they were without a care and couldn’t probably define regret or shame or burdens or a scary darkness.
What value is freedom unappreciated? Does the song play if no one is there to listen?
All of creation was beautiful but capable of choosing, capable of losing freedom, capable of giving over wrists for the bonds.
So the tree. And the fruit. Not merely a choice or a response, but now an appreciation for what is lost and the weight of heavy sackcloth gained. They would toil and labor and suffer and die. They would pass on sin and the marred image of Freedom to offspring who would forever find new ways to give up freedom.
They would walk entangled by the snake at their feet and the desires in their hearts and the burden of remembering that the world used to be only beautiful.
So we walk that way, looking dimly at the world around us.
We all have that longing or regret, a desire to go back and do things right or just to do things again, because the past is precious and painful and oh we would do things differently this time. We would savor moments better, observe them more carefully. We would brush off all those entanglements and choose our people over our things, choose God’s way over our own.
Retrospect romanticizes the past, I know. It also reminds me that the world used to be only beautiful.
But what if that longing was placed there from the beginning, as part of that song we can’t quite hear anymore? What if my desire for something good – be it past or present – is also and most truly a pull toward a beautifully prepared and eternal future?
It’s like the beauty that our first parents saw is still with us.
All the ways we try to make ourselves happy here – all the things we have to buy and places we have to be and people we have to please – all of them promise satisfaction but only deliver us to the next have to. And if we were to gain whatever happiness earth has to offer, eventually we still die and leave others to our happy mess.
Grabbing and getting and maintaining the joys of this life should disappoint and remind us to look forward to the real deal, to long for something we don’t have yet but will have forever if we are His.
When we look back at the things we would do differently or the moments we’d like to enjoy again, that stabbing heart is our sign of Life, our reminder that we were made in freedom and things used to be only beautiful.
Desire is our hope that things will be only beautiful again.
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory