Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine Online

From Out of Eden: 7 Ways God Restores Blocked Communication

By Paul Soukup, S.J.

Podcast and introduction

We begin, as Scriptural reflections often do, in the garden. God has created us; the world is new; there’s a freshness about. God, we are told, saw that it was good. Genesis goes on to tell us that God was in the habit of walking in the garden in the cool of the evening. Eve and Adam would walk with God and, we can suppose, converse with God, as friends might. There’s a wonderful image of intimacy in those conversations. God, Eve, Adam at peace with one another, enjoying this simple moment. In those walks, we have an image of communication: simple, direct, open, deepening a friendship, leading to a loving exchange. Communication occurs almost without effort for God, Adam, and Eve.

Artwork by Jenny Hodgson McGee
Artwork by Jenny Hodgson McGee

We may think of those moments with a kind of nostalgia. How good things were then! And maybe we find similar moments in our lives. How we spoke to one another at first love, how parents and children shared the simple things that brought joy to all, how we worked easily with colleagues, trading ideas. The idea of such communication beckons us, the ease of it, the idealness of it.

Its being an ideal suggests that such communication no longer exists. What happened?

The Genesis account tells us. One day Eve and Adam began to listen to another voice in the garden, a voice that was not God’s voice (the voice of the tempter, we later learn). The message didn’t matter; only the question in the voice. “Did God really say that?” the tempter asks, all the while implying, “Can you really trust God?” That other voice suggests that God’s communication has a purpose other than the simple sharing, friends with friends, lovers calling to one another. The other voice whispers that God’s communication is set to enslave you, forbidding you to eat of this tree, forbidding you that knowledge. Better to be suspicious than to be duped.

And so they listened to that other voice. God came to walk again in the garden. And Adam and Eve hid themselves. They cut off the communication. Or, rather, the communication had been cut off since that other voice raised a suspicion in their minds: What is God really up to?

That same suspicion enters into all our human communication, doesn’t it? We’re never quite sure about any communication. First love gives way to routine or (worse yet) jealousy. The “other voice” is the voice of Iago muttering in Othello’s ear: She’ll only hurt you. He’ll betray you. Children find their parents a bit boring, especially compared with their friends or with the television or with music. Parents wonder about their children: You just can’t talk to teens, they think. Our co-workers are out to advance themselves, to follow some agenda we don’t quite recognize. The “other voice” tells us to beware. And we do. We erect a barrier to communication.

Printer-friendly format