“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

Writing is where we truly learn. Join the Journey.

I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Like Adam.... Finding the Joy of Family ..Genesis 1-5

Samuel Hall Conkey age 96

My grandfather Conkey wanted to live to be one hundred years old. He almost made it. He lived to be ninety-eight and eleven months. He vigilantly took vitamins, exercised, and stayed socially active. He bowled a 200 game when he was 86! Wow! He purely enjoyed life. I remember his gentle love as he walked with me in the raspberry garden and taught me how to pick mustard weed from the corn field. 

I don’t believe Grandfather feared death, but I know he respected it. I don’t think he thought much about eternal life for himself but he did wonder about his sister who died from diphtheria at a very young age. When he spoke of her some 60 years later, I could still hear his pain.

Why do we have a fascination with eternal life? Why do we fear death?

I’ve thought about these questions and about my grandfather as I’ve thought about our first father Adam. I’ve begun to notice how our culture tends to have an unhealthy fascination with living forever.  The last Pirates of the Caribbean film took us on a quest to find the legendary “Fountain of Youth.” Also, several popular songs croon over lost opportunity or death of loved ones.

It appears that sense Adam’s dismissal from the garden, we have all worried less about how we can live to find joy and more about what we can do to live forever? Fame, fortune, and power all have roots in wanting to be remembered forever, living forever, or even having the money to freeze our bodies so that we can be revived when scientist figure it out. It is as if we have once known a distant ancestor who once had the opportunity to live forever? We tend to want to blame him for our misery. 

Wouldn't life be better for everyone if we all lived with the focus of finding joy and worried less about how long we had to find it? My grandfather had almost 100 years to find and give joy. Adam had 930! Is it significant to consider the differences in the times or the way of life? It seems to me that the farther society pulls away from the  Garden of Eden and all that nature represents, the more distant and violent we become towards the earth and one another and the less we find joy. 

Adam walked with God in the Garden. He learned to find joy from walking with God in the garden and from learning how to talk with God after he was cast from the garden. In either case he had Eve by his side. The closest my grandfather came from walking with God was when he was with my grandmother. She was a saintly angel that kept us all on the right path. I have considered that Adam may have been alone in the garden for an untold amount of time before God gave him Eve. We are not given a time period. We just know that Eve came after Adam had named all of the animals and after he had learned how to "dress and keep" the garden. Did the Lord have Adam prepare the garden for Eve? So that he could share the joy with her? So that she could help him find the joyful path? 

My grandfather learned the joys that came from the farm and garden from his father and grandfather. In fact my great grandfather lived only across the yard from him in the original family homestead.  But who taught Adam how to dress and keep a garden? Is this what God taught Adam as he walked with him? I think that maybe yes. God walked with him and taught him of everything he had created for Adam. And did he have to learn everything by experience?  Did he have to fail a hundred times before he got it right? Is that why he had 930 years of life to our almost 100? Again I think yes. It is the pattern of learning. First we are instructed then we must practice what we are taught. But how are we to practice in an environment that does not allow for mistake? And where is the joy if there is nothing to gain?

While Adam was the "keeper of the garden", he was alone. He was told to not partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Then he was given Eve. Eve did not hear of this commandment from the Lord for she had not walked with God, nor had she been taught by God how to keep the garden. When Eve made her choice to partake, Adam was forced to make a decision. He could stay alone in the garden or join Eve and have family. Which would bring him the greatest joy? To be alone in an eternal state of bliss or to be with Eve searching for joy? 

Family would prove to be important in the search for joy as well as the setting and teaching of priorities. Family would bring companionship, aid, comfort, and help with problems. Family would bring joy and also pain as choices were made and lessons given. Family was given not as a consequence of Adam's choice but rather as a means for finding joy. With family Adam learned how to be forgiven and how to forgive. He learned how to handle the power that brought joy to others. With family Adam and Eve learned that having perfection (in the garden) was not as important as becoming perfect through family. And the only way to practice becoming perfect was to make mistakes with family. 

When I think of my grandfather's farm it was as near to perfection as I could ever imagine. It was my piece of heaven on earth. My first memory of pure joy came as I picked apples or watched the Aurora Boreallis light up the Michigan summer sky as I sat in my fathers lap. Grandfather was always peaceful and kind. I believe that Adam was a very docile man, filled with humility and the grace of God. I believe he lived close to nature, respecting the natural harmony that exists between man and animal. Adam came from the perfection of the Garden to help us all remember not how to perfectly keep a garden but how to let a garden perfectly keep us. 

Adam and Eve represent the first formed family. Together they learned how to gracefully make mistakes and keep on going. Together they learned to love their children but not let their children's choices get in between their own joy of  life. My grandfather's family represent my first formed family. Why? Because Grandfather Conkey is the first family connected to my own that I have personally known. Here outside of my own home, I saw life and love happen. I learned that my father learned from them. I loved them as they loved me. I began to understand what joy meant. 

Did Adam realize that even though he had left the garden and the glory of paradise that his choice gave choice to all family. Did my grandfather realize that all of his choice has given choice to all of my family. Because of my grandfather, I write. Because of my grandfather I love the earth. Because of Adam and my father, I love God. 

If Adam had not followed Eve would he have been able to stay in the garden, alone? If my grandfather had not loved, had not followed my grandmother would he have been able to stay in his garden alone?  He had the choice to stay in New York and follow a writing career, but rather than being alone, he chose the joy of family. I know my grandfather was a brilliant man, but as Adam learned, my grandfather learned what good is intelligence if you have no one to pass it on to? The joy of learning is not in holding onto what you know but in the passing of the torch. 

Adam felt the first shame, the first angst at Eve and yet he loved her and followed her and gave her family. Through Eve he found both faith and family. Through Adam Eve found a guide through life with the priesthood of God that would lead her back to Heavenly Father. Together that gave each other what the other lacked and found joy. 

Adam made a choice to partake of the fruit. He could have chosen to be alone. He could have chosen to let Eve suffer alone for her transgression. But he didn't. Why? Because he understood how important it was for the family of man to need one another, to be together, to help one another, and well. to be. Adam fell (he made his choice) so that we could have opportunity to make our choice. 

Death will come to us all. Adam’s choice secured this for us. But his choice also brought us the hope of eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I understand now… The fountain of Youth is not a wishing well to be found and used to morph the time existence of our bodies. The fountain of Youth exists in each of us who learn to live our lives in such a manner as to give life and joy to others. When we study truth… when we understand the principles of truth, and put them into our lives they set us free to live an eternal life of happiness.

With each life that we lift, with each child of God that we serve, we drink of the fountain of youth.
My grandfather existed on this earth for 98 years and eleven months, but his love for family taught me to love myself and others. My fountain of youth comes with each new member of my family, each new birth, marriage, and yes, even death. For is death not also a new beginning, a portal into the heavens, where joy comes not fleeting, but lasts eternal. 

It is to my grandfather I owe the joy of writing, of deep thinking, and of faith. For because of him I have my grandmother who set the foundation of faith for our family. Because of him I have a heritage of garden life, a legacy of what it means to walk with God in the garden of life. 

He who freely shares all love that comes their way
Has found the fountain where youth has chosen to stay.

L.C. Shaw 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails