One of the most vivid memories of my childhood was the Apollo 8 mission to the moon on December 24, 1968, I was gripped by the majesty of this technological accomplishment and the sheer beauty of the moon from such a close perspective and even more so of the beautiful earth floating so freely in the void. This was a very humbling experience for me and I will never forget it. A very important part of the event was the stirring reading by the three astronauts of Genesis 1:1-10. I’ve always been captivated by those verses and have been even more so since that moment.
I love this creation story. I find creation stories in all human culture fascinating and revealing. We have always had this deep-seated need to explain our origin and thus make more sense out of what the hell we are doing here. It is very hard to accept that perhaps this information is not available to us, that “flaming cherubim and seraphim” keep us from returning there and revisiting the Garden of Eden.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a marvelous little book entitled Creation and the Fall in which he speculated about creation, the fall, and mankind’s quest to escape his existential predicament. He argued that mankind is aware that he is caught in the “in the middle” and is anxious about the beginning and the end. I’ve read others who have described this status as being caught in the “in between” or the “metaxy”. Mankind is obsessed with getting back to that beginning and understanding and explaining it and therefore “owning” it in some manner. But we are trapped, fated to wonder the earth knowing that “our little life is rounded in a sleep.” (Shakespeare)
T.S. Eliot offered a thought on this notion. He said, “Man’s curiosity searches past and future and clings to that dimension. ” For “past and future” is but a single dimension, the time-space continuum from which we cannot escape try as we may. I’m made to think of Jim Morrison’s song, “Break on through, break on through, break on through to the other side, break on through, break on through, break on through to the other side.” Morrison’s heart hungered to “break on through” and that is what drove him to drugs and alcohol. He could not accept being trapped like the rest of us, he could not accept “the fall” into space and time.