I just finished reading a novel by Gioconda Belli, titled Infinity in the Palm of her Hand: A Novel of Adam and Eve. It was a short enough read that I finished it despite not being sure whether I was really enjoying it or not. On the one hand, it is interesting (even if one does not accept a literal interpretation of the creation story) to imagine Adam and Eve as they learn about the world and their place in it after they are expelled from the Garden. On the other, the portrayal of God following the expulsion is one that bears little resemblance to the God of my experience.
What did grab me was a passage very early in the book, where Adam (before the creation of Eve) is trying to catch a glimpse of God (the “Other”). I found the description of his experience of God’s presence to capture beautifully our intuitive sense of God’s presence even when we don’t “see” Him. Belli writes
From time to time [Adam] looked up suddenly, hoping to suprise the Other, whose presence was softer than the wind though similar to it. The intensity of his gaze, however, was unequivocal. He sensed it on his skin, just as he perceived the unchanging, ever-present light that enveloped the Garden and illuminated the sky with its resplendent breath.
After Eve is created, she asks Adam where is the Other and Adam responds, “I don’t know where he is. I know only he is all around.” As conveyed in the book, this truth is one Adam and Even seem to have difficulty holding onto after their expulsion from the Garden. Adam’s early experience, however, captures a truth available to us if we sit in the silence and open ourselves to feel the presence that is softer than the wind and the words constantly whispered in our hearts.