Last month, Hot Firefighter Husband tried to eat super-healthy. He counted calories and downloaded food apps onto his phone, and wouldn’t even drink with me. I was all, what? Are you trying to ruin my life?
One day I bought him some ice cream and held it under his nose after dinner until he ate it. Then we were both happy.
This story might sound familiar. That’s because it’s essentially the tale of Adam and Eve. Man is good, woman tempts man, delicious moments (of one sort or another) follow. But in the biblical story, a
misogynist, controlling furious God retaliates against the couple and tells Eve that when she has a child, it’s going to hurt a lot. As for Adam, he will have to grow his own food until he dies, at which point from dust he came, and to dust he shall return.
Adam and Eve procreate and produce a couple of sons – Cain and Abel. Both boys grow up to be farmers, and give gifts to God. Cain kills Abel because God liked Abel’s gift better. So not cool of God. A few decades later, Abraham places his young son Isaac on an altar and prepares to cut off his head. Seriously? It’s true that I called my son
an asshole a misbehaving but adorable miscreant last night, but presenting him as a human sacrifice has never crossed my mind. If an iota of Abraham’s story is true, it’s proof that bipolar disease has been around forever.
There is some crazy shit in the Book of Genesis, right? But the story of Adam and Eve starts off with vituperative aplomb. God told them not to eat the apple, but they did. Now mankind is cursed forever. Because of a fucking apple?
Well. Today is Ash Wednesday, and all over the world people are going to church so that priests can draw signs of the cross on their foreheads in ashes and utter the phrase, “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” As much as I express disdain for the regimented dogma of organized religion – Catholicism, in particular – I recognize the beauty and eternal wisdom that can be culled from ancient stories. We don’t have to believe that all of the animal kingdom hunkered down on Noah’s ark in order to cull some sort of perspective from the tale, although I’m not sure about the moral of that particular story. Plan ahead? Remember the aardvarks? Anyway. While I don’t have ashes on my forehead right now, I’ve been thinking all day that I’m made of dust. I came from the earth, and will return to the earth. My mortality is as real as my skin.
What I do while I’m here is what matters, of course. What’s my purpose? I feel like it changes daily. My darling Tyrant is too young to have such doubts, and it somehow makes her wiser. She awoke in my bed one recent morning, sat up, and said, “Mom? I came to life to love.”
Me: What did you say?
Tyrant: I came to life to love.
Me: What do you mean?
Tyrant: I came to love. Not for money, or bad things. Just for love.
Honestly, I stared at her palms and feet for signs of the stigmata and wondered if she was being called to some purpose far beyond my capacity to accept. Then I watched her closely to see if this fairy child was perhaps an ephemeral spirit preparing to slip away from me. But my daughter felt warm and real as I pulled her into a hug, then laid her head back down the pillow and stroked her hair. “Night-night,” she said, and drifted back into sleep, leaving me to contemplate how such beauty – such remarkable, aching, poignant love – could emerge from a pile of dust.