Hymns on Paradise 9-15

Got Sin?…Return and Repent

As I joyfully read through the hymns of St. Ephrem, my mind came to a halt at the passage:

For God would not grant [Adam] the crown without some effort;/He placed two crowns for Adam, for which he was to strive,/two Trees to provide crowns if he were victorious./If only he had conquered just for a moment,/he would have eaten the one and lived, eaten the other and gained knowledge;/his life would have been protected from harm and his wisdom would have been unshakeable…(167)

It was especially here (as follows) when I posed a couple of questions:

..The Just One did not wish to give Adam the crown quite free,/…God knew that if Adam wanted he could win the prize (167).

St. Ephrem stated the Just One did not freely give the crown (of experiencing the Tree of Knowledge), causing me to wonder why. Since man (in this instance) was without sin and was perfect (in a man-like fashion of course), why did God separate the Tree from Adam? The quote God knew that if Adam wanted he could win the prize, perfectly answered my question.  God knew Adam’s potential (Ahh, right You are, Lord) :-).  At this very moment (7:56am), I am realizing that my idea of the Paradise of the Garden of Eden is identical to my idea of the Paradise of heaven.  In other words, until now, I thought that God (symbolized by the Tree of Knowledge) revealed His Divinity to Adam in the same way that He will reveal It to us in heaven.

Next I sought an answer to a different but related question: WHY would God program Adam to have that potential?  In other words, why not create a perfect, robotic, Adam, made to never commit sin?  A short and common answer to this question is “free will.”  But with the precious prose of the Saint in my hands, I decided to search it for other answers, further embellishing (or possibly unrelated to) just the idea of free will.  Pages 171-2 ignited some unique possibilities:

The Just One was angry and cast [King David] out into the region of wild beasts/…Blessed is He who has thus taught us to repent so that we too may return to Paradise.

The words return and repent seemed along the lines of the more unique answers I wanted. In every example of this situation I have seen on earth, there is always something phenomenal about the process of someone straying far away from good, weaving their way through terrible sin, but later repenting and returning to that same good.  Having said this, their is surely much due praise for the incredible miracle of people who can live their life with no terrible (“terrible” as in blatantly incorrect, such as St. Mary of Egypt’s former life of dark, intense prostitution) sin.  Perhaps Saints’ stories like St. Mary’s often stick out more than stories of Saints who lived in constant, gentle love because identifying with sin–hopefully resulting in repentance–seems more relatable than identifying with constant goodness.  Unfortunately, our race frankly consists of many people who often are misled and walk right into sin with no hesitation.

Although [King David] disliked the abode of wild beasts/it was necessary for [him] to remain there…/and when the Good One returned him, he gave thanks to Him for His compassion./Blessed is He who gave us in him an example of returning (172-3).

Verily, Blessed is He who gave us in him an example of returning!

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