“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
– Genesis 3:8, NRSV
I recognize all sorts of sounds. Water boiling on the stove. The silverware jingling when shutting the drawer that doesn’t close properly. The steady drone of vehicles on Stone Church (by my house) and Queen (by my office). The distinct intonations and cadences of Hennie and our children talking.
But what does God walking in the garden during the evening breeze sound like?
Do the leaves rustle under God’s feet? Is there a playfulness in God’s step that causes butterflies and birds to flutter about in wonder? Do the daffodils rise up and the sunflowers turn their heads toward God’s radiance? Do the creatures of the forest come running to watch God walk on the trails that deer and beavers make? I wonder.
I have yet to hear the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden. And in all likelihood, I won’t hear that sound this side of the new heaven, new earth. But, just think about the story for a moment: the God of all creation walked in the garden regularly enough that Adam and Eve learned to recognize the soundof God walking in the garden. God liked walking. In the garden. At the time of the evening breeze. And that had a recognizable and unique sound.
This year, I’m committing myself to walking more. Yes, I need the physical and mental health benefits that come with walking regularly. My heart, my lungs, my emotions – all of me – will appreciate the regular movement. But even more so, I am eager to imitate God.
We rightly emphasize that bearing God’s image involves creating cultures that can steward the vast richness of God’s creation. But if we listen carefully to these first chapters, God’s image in more than creating. God looked. God rested. God walked. These unproductive, inefficient activities are also part of God’s image. What’s catching my attention as we begin this new year is that bearing God’s image faithfully means delighting consistently – even daily – in creation.
As I’ve said, I couldn’t describe the sound of God walking in the garden during the evening breeze, but I wonder: If I start setting aside time to look, to rest, and to walk in creation each day, could I possibly learn to recognize the sound of God walking with me?