Not long after our first child was born, some friends arrived at our door with a gift and a loaf of freshly baked bread. Soon, the bread’s aroma began to fill the room and within minutes I was transported to another time and another place where I had smelled this bread before.
I found myself in the home of my grandparents on Signal Mountain, Tennessee. My grandmother had just taken her bread out of the oven. I remembered her slicing a piece for me, and still warm, spreading butter on it, I watching it melt before I spooned some homemade raspberry preserves on top.
I remembered her soft face, untouched by the sun. I can still feel my hand moving across it. I smelled her perfume with a hint of powder, and saw her round glasses and wide smile. I saw her piano where she taught me to play, and the mahogany metronome that now rests on the shelf above my desk.
I could have lingered in my state of remembrance for a long time, bringing back more of my childhood at my grandparents home. The sensations, the smells, and the feelings of warmth and care – they were suddenly all available to me, brought back by the aroma of a loaf of bread.
*Photo by Brett Neilson, Creative Commons
For a moment, I was Adam dreaming of Eden. Adam, on the outside of the garden, suddenly getting a whiff of something in the old garden that he’d left long ago. And that whiff brought it all back, remembering what once was. And for a minute I enjoyed it, and then a sadness moved in.
We all have those memories tucked deep inside of us, moments of beauty and of innocence. It was Eden, and we were there! But we rarely visit these memories, because frankly it hurts to go there. For those moments, like Eden, are gone. I’m reminded of Robert Frost’s haunting poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”
Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf’s a flower:
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank in grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
For all of us, Eden’s loss hits hard. A snake comes into every garden, interrupting innocence with a divorce, a death, a shaming moment, or a terrible violation. It may have been dramatic or it may have been subtle, but whatever it was, it signaled Eden’s demise, the loss of innocence.
I wonder – if Adam’s sin courses through my veins, perhaps so does his memory of Eden. Could that be what it means to have “eternity written in our hearts?” – that we’ve been there before and its goodness has been imprinted on our souls?
Maybe it’s time that we begin to remember those days – those moments or relationships we experienced when all seemed right with the world. What if we looked at those memories as bread crumbs left behind by a God who loves us. Perhaps if we pick them up, we’ll make our way back home, finding there a taste of a future that will be ours.
What do you remember about your Eden?
Spend time with that memory. Write about it. Be thankful for it.