From a very young age, we learn about it. We hear about it and read about the characters. I can assert confidently that knowledge about this tale is not limited to those of us brought up in a church-going home. We know all about it. The story. The consequences.
The Apple ...
Ah ... you know what I'm talking about, don't you?
We recognize an Apple by its sheen and the lushness of the typically red coloration. We feel its smoothness and note how easily it fits into the palm of our hand. We learn it is a fruit and that for all intents and purposes it displays the characteristics of something that is good for us.
But no matter its appearance or the good press the Apple receives as the "perfect fruit," its archetypal back-story originated as something forbidden ... something bad for us.
Yet even from the very beginning, we craved it anyway.
"When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I understood as a child. I thought as a child. But when I became a man -- in other words, when I grew up -- I put away childish ways. Then we see through a glass darkly, now face to face."
Those are Paul's words from I Corinthians, with a little clarifying commentary from me. But, I ponder on those nights when I'm unable to fall asleep if that is an entirely accurate statement. Do we really put away "childish ways" and longings? I pour out thoughts into my journal and take long walks or drives in evaluation of that concept. I examine that idea a lot.
As children we learn acceptable and non-acceptable choices and behaviors from our parents and caregivers. We learn what pleases others and the results of a bad choice. We are told Yes and No and Do This and Don't Do That because it will hurt you or because it's not good for you so often we can't help but identify the elements that offer accolades and the actions that cause dismay, disappointment and punishment. I'm pretty sure one of the first words we hear repeatedly is "No." There are many variations to these guidelines and they play like audiotapes in our minds.
Don't eat that. Don't do that. Don't try that. Don't touch that. Don't ... don't ... don't. And if perchance we DO ... well, there are consequences.
If we study the archetypal and biblical story of Adam, Eve, the Apple and that Snake, we see this performance played out in the earliest chapters of the Bible. You can have ANYTHING in the Garden. Just don't eat the Apple. Don't touch the Apple. Don't look at the Apple. In other words, stay the heck away from the Apple.
So, what happens? Ya'll know this. Eve eats the Apple. Humanity falls from grace and stumbles about from that moment on ...struggling with No and Don't and Danger, Will Robinson. (Okay, maybe only my generation struggles with the final one.) But the result is the same. We were offered Free Will but told the rules by our Father. What did we do? We ignored the rules, indulged our craving, ate the forbidden fruit and messed everything up.
If I could have Coffee with God, I might just ask him why he put that stupid apple tree there in the first place. I mean, he's God. He didn't have to put that tree there with its shiny red fruit dancing before Eve's eyes and making her long for it or wonder about it or notice it at all. He could have masked it or made it ugly or hidden it from view. But the fact remained ... he put it there. Eve noticed it despite the warning and the NO associated with it. The very first Temptation occurred. And guess what? Eve failed.
Maybe Eve and I should meet and have a chat ...
Eve, made in the very image of God and perfect in every way, failed the test. Eve saw that glistening fruit and went for it, despite God the Father and Creator of the Universe walking by her side and saying NO!
So, the cycle continues. We tell our kids the rules ... don't do it, we tell them. Big stuff, little stuff. Doesn't matter. But they fall for the Apple too and mess up as well.
It can be a simple thing. Don't eat the cookies or chips because "They aren't healthy," "They may taste good but have no nutrients," "They are bad for you." Oreos and Cape Cod kettle chips still disappear before the much healthier carrots and celery.
Maybe it's bigger ... We tell our kids not to play their music so loud since they might damage their hearing. We tell them not to text and drive or check their phone in the car or play with the radio because they could get in an accident. We tell them to turn off the TV and study or they might fail the test. In good faith, we knowing grown-ups tell them the "don'ts" with the related consequences. But we aren't fools. We've played the game. We know that inevitably and despite our loving intentions some of those "don'ts" are gonna be ignored.
It's not just kids, though. We know the rules. We know the don'ts and their consequences too. We are told by our doctors about the issues of too much caffeine or super sized extra-value meals, let alone the evil french fry which has nothing healthy about it. But there is something about that french fry ... salt glistening and the lush red ketchup by its side that we cannot and do not wish to resist. We want it. We order it. We eat it. We enjoy it... until the next morning when we pay for it. Ah, but that's another blog...
Anyway ... what do we do? That juicy Apple is out there ... beckoning and luring us with a siren's song. We know it's bad for us. Originally, in the Garden, we were told it would kill us. From the actions that followed, we know it will bring us down. We know ... but what do we do with that knowledge? Will we reach out? Will we pull it down from the dangling limb? Will we take a bite?
Eve's choice forced her to leave The Garden. I find myself wondering how she felt about Apples after all the drama of the "incident." Did she resent them? Forsake them? Did thinking them make her feel ill? Or did she learn something from her taste test and expulsion? Did she overcome the aversion and develop some deeper personal understanding while prepping Apple Pie, Apple Streudel, Applesauce etc out there in the wild, wild world for Adam and the kids?
We tell our kids Don't. We hope they are listening. But we know instances exist where they will Do what we told them not to. In the same way, as we hear those warnings and Do. Oh, not all the time. And it isn't necessarily a giant rule-breakage. Most of us don't commit felonies or heinous acts of evil. But we do check our email or texts on our phones as we sit at a stoplight. We do drink a beer or two and eventually drive home. We do make that indulgent purchase that perhaps strains our bank accounts more than it should. We do lie at times. We do gossip and say not-nice-words or things. We do stuff ... we taste the Apple.
We are human ... fundamentally good, I believe, but far from perfect. If the very first created human couldn't drum up some resistence to a piece of fruit when she had a plethora of free stuff all around her, how can I? How can we?
The infamous Borg from Star Trek phrased it beautifully as they navigated the cosmos and added human beings to their Collective. Choice didn't exist. Escape was impossible. The reality was: "Resistance is Futile. You will be assimilated." Brilliant assessment. True? False?
So you will inevitably crave the Apple ... its shiny color will beckon to you. And you will long for the French Fry. It's perfect golden color with a seductive taste that dissolves delectably on your tongue and creates a feeling of absolute bliss as though all is right with the world.
And then, you'll get kicked out of the Garden for your momentary indulgence.
Maybe our kids will listen. Maybe they are stronger than we are. Maybe they won't text and drive or drink too much at a college party and throw up all night. Maybe they won't do all those crazy things we did because we told them not to.
Maybe we can learn not to like Apples. Maybe by reminding ourselves of the consequences that come along with this seemingly innocuous and pleasing perfect fruit we can learn to resist its siren song. Deny ourselves.
Move away from the Apple. Walk in the light.
But ... will we ever stop wanting it?