The Mark of Cain — jill.m.richardson

It’s the end of February, which to me means spring is imminent. OK, I know it isn’t. This is Chicago, after all. I know, in a way no one south of Highway 70 can possibly know, that spring is never imminent and always capricious. But I’m a gardener, so waiting and hope intermingle here. Gardening […]

The Mark of Cain — jill.m.richardson

jillrichardsonjill.m.richardson5

The Mark of Cain

IMG_0181

It’s the end of February, which to me means spring is imminent. OK, I know it isn’t. This is Chicago, after all. I know, in a way no one south of Highway 70 can possibly know, that spring is never imminent and always capricious.

But I’m a gardener, so waiting and hope intermingle here.

Gardening and theology go together like Frodo and Sam, and some of my best theological moments have happened out there amid the snap peas and sunflowers.

We’ve been talking about the Garden and its theology, and how it still matters in our lives today. No story proves that better than the one we’ll explore today.

But first—Recap time:

God gave blessings/commissions in the garden—two important ones that explain and define us in ways we probably don’t realize.

  • The first blessing/commission God gave in the Garden—Live in relationships. It’s not good to be alone. Care for one another. Be responsible for one another. Create community on this earth I’ve made for you.
  • The second blessing/commission God gave in the Garden—work, have purpose, live in partnership of doing good and spreading good on this earth I’ve made for you.

Then, of course, it goes all so wrong. Within one generation, we see the setup for generations to come, including our own. We see it in five angry, dismissive words that haunt us to this day.mike-castro-demaria-hq0klnwdGFo-unsplash

Photo by Mike Castro Demaria on Unsplash

“Am I my brother’s guardian?”

We know those words. They come from Cain, the first son of Eden. Here’s the story:

Genesis 4.2-16 When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected.

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”

Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear!You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer.

You had one job

We don’t know why Cain’s offering fell short. We have no evidence, so any speculation is just that. All we know is that it did, and that God in his kindness gave him a chance to make it right. A chance to choose blessing rather than consequences.

He does not make the right choice.matt-hardy-55NI4yEAas4-unsplash

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash

Cain kills his brother, and like his father before him, when questioned by God, he deflects. What? I didn’t do anything. Wasn’t my fault, whatever you think happened.

How am I responsible for that other person you put on this planet?

Cain violates the first blessing/commission we are ever given. He denies his blessing of relationship. He refuses to be accountable for the community he’s been given. As a result, he loses all his relationships. He is driven from the land and forced to wander as a landless, rootless nomad. He has no community, when such a rich one had been his to keep.

But he chose to turn away.

What’s a guardian?

The word for guardian, shawmar, means to keep, to guard, to protect, even to save life. It’s a  term of responsibility—the same one God gave Cain’s parents earlier—

Genesis 2.15—The Lord God placed humans in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.

So in answer to your question, Cain, Why yes, it is your one job to guard your brother. To protect and care for, to nurture life. It’s literally the first thing you had to do.

IMG_3448 (2)

He loses family as a result.

About that second blessing . . .

The second blessing, meaningful work, take a huge hit as well. It’s difficult to farm the land when you’re going to roam it constantly. It’s a challenge to produce enough to feed yourself especially when, “No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work!”

Work will be too impossible to even hope for meaningful. The scarcity mindset Cain already had—there isn’t enough of God’s blessing to go around—my brother is getting more than I get!—will worsen.

Hasn’t it?

Maybe the actual mark of Cain was a symbol on his forehead, but I think the real mark of Cain can be found in all of us when we’re certain we need to compete with our brother rather than care for him.

The real mark f Cain is in all of us when we're certain we have to compete with our sisters and brothers rather than care for them.

Mommy wars.

  • At least I work/stay at home. I breast feed. I use organic. I co-sleep. I babywear. (Is that a word?) I won’t put my child in a nursery/will have my child to church from day one.*

Where does it end? This is not a competition. But it is. Because Cain taught us all that there’s only so much “good on you” to go around, and we must have our share. “Our share” is always more than hers/his.

No, we don’t. There is enough to go around. There’s more when we decide to be our sister’s guardian rather than her competition.

Popularity wars.

You know it never ended. It’s just escalated to Instagram rather than 7th grade locker notes.

  • Her kids are dressed better than mine.
  • Her vacation is more exciting than mine.
  • Her house is definitely cleaner than mine.
  • Her Bible study habits are even better than mine.

Cain taught us all that someone has to be better—there isn’t any room for both their life and mine to be satisfying.

According to research, girls from a young age already isolate other girls who seem to be too powerful, courageous, or self-assured. They don’t want other girls to have that edge, so they “cut them down to size.” Adult women—have you seen it? I have. Sometimes, we’re the worst at holding back other women.

Cain taught us that if someone else gets ahead, we’er automatically behind.

We’ve been carrying the mark of Cain ever since.

B8A658C1-A614-4492-A7CB-19B53C73B7AB_1_105_c

Think about all that Cain lost in that transaction. We lose it, too. We lose relationships when we decide to compete rather than encourage. We lose the opportunity to work together when we push someone else back in order to move ahead. We lose all the things Cain lost—community and meaningful, cooperative work—when we choose scarcity and competition over being our brother or sister’s guardian.

What would change in our lives if we instead chose the role of shawmar? Keeper, guardian, protector, lifesaver?

It would be so good for us all to leave behind the mark of Cain.

*(PSA Insert: The only place this argument is acceptable is “I vaccinate my kid.” For the love of all that’s holy and ALL your brothers and sisters—vaccinate your child. The end.)

  • Share
  • 5Likes

MORE IN JILL.M.RICHARDSON

1 COMMENT

  1. samo lucijaYour comment is awaiting moderation.GOD BLESS YOU SISTER !
    https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/158179769/posts/79

Published by samo lucija

http://glasnik-sim.hr/prvi-dan-devetnice/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeKuqtTT1H PRESVETO TIJELO I KRV KRISTOVA. TIJELOVO Svetkovina (četvrtak nakon Presv. Trojstva) VEČERNJA MOLITVA Isuse, ostavio si nam Sebe u sakramentu svoga Tijela i Krvi. Dao si nam neizreciv dar. Dar bogat ljubavlju. Darovao si nam čitavog Sebe. Hvala Ti, Isuse. Hvala Ti, Isuse, što si oduvijek bio čovjek blizine. Uz Tebe se svatko osjećao prihvaćen i ljubljen. Nitko nije imao dojam da si ga olako shvatio ili površno slušao. I danas je tako, Isuse. Utaži, Gospodine, moju glad za osobom povjerenja, osobom koja ima vremena i ljubavi za drugoga. Osobom koja ne važe, koja ne mjeri, koja nije zaokupljena prvenstveno sobom. Koja zna čuti nečije teškoće i onda kada samo šutnja progovara. Osobom koja će bez uvrijeđenosti saslušati ono što možda i ne želi čuti. Pomozi mi da tu osobu tražim jedino u Tebi. Znaš i sam koliko sam puta ranjena zbog neprisutnosti osoba koje bi mi trebale biti blizu. Razočarana jer se netko od najbližih ne sjeti da mi je potreban ili se ne sjeti nečega što nije trebao previdjeti. Boli me kada primijetim da me netko uopće ne sluša ili me potpuno ignorira. Gospodine, pomozi mi ispuniti te praznine. Pomozi mi drugome biti poput Tebe. Biti netko tko zna drugome biti blizak, tko zna biti bližnji. Biti netko tko ima vremena i ljubavi za drugoga. Isuse, održao si svoje obećanje da ćeš biti s nama u sve dane do svršetka svijeta. Dao si nam sebe u Kruhu života. Na Tebe više nitko ne mora čekati, Isuse, u svakom času si sama prisutnost. Na svakoj Misi, u svakoj Pričesti. Hvala Ti, Isuse, na tom daru. Hvala ti što se i meni daruješ svojim Tijelom i svojom Krvlju. Više nisam sama, nisam prepuštena samoj sebi. Hvala Ti, Isuse …Suzana Monika Suzana Monika IL SORRISO DI MARIA 7 mtSptoniuhsaceormed · Santa Madre di Lourdes, madre degli infermi, poni sotto il tuo manto i malati terminali. Accoglili sotto il tuo Santo Manto e dona pace e Serenità alle loro famiglie. Heliga Lourdes moder, sjuka moder, sätt dödssjuk under din mantel. Välkomna dem under din Heliga Manto och ge fred och stillhet till deras familjer. Redigera eller ta bort detta Gilla · Svara · 1m Suzana Monika Suzana Monika Fani Kovač‎ till Jezus te ljubi ♥ Jesus loves you 5tS Stponcsoreigdocfmf · Tolaži Oče žalostne otroke! Tolaži Oče žalostne otroke, ki v stiskah in nemiru trepetamo, priznanja in ljubezni ne poznamo, slabotne nam in vklenjene so roke. Trplenje reže rane nam globoke in križ težak nam upogiba ramo. Srce je v najbritkejših urah samo: suh list na sredi reke je široke. Tolaži Oče žalostne otroke: poslal je Sina ,da za nas trpi. Poslal Edinca,da za nas umre! Objele so nas prebodene roke in dvigajo nas tja,kjer angeli nas venčajo,se z nami vesele. Kristus je Bog z nami. in sicer je navzoč in deluje v Cerkvi in po Cerkvi. Cerkev je po Kristusovi in po Božji volji orodje odrešenjskega Božjega delovanja. *Pod tvoje varstvo pribežimo,o sveta Božja Porodnica*. * O Marija,Ti vedno siješ na naši poti kot znamenje odrešenja in upanja.* AMEN! Bekväm far till ledsna barn! Bekväm far ledsna barn, som vi darrar av problem och ångest, Vi vet inte igenkänning och kärlek, Våra händer är svaga och handbojor. Att lida skär ner våra sår djupt och ett tungt kors böjer vår axel. Hjärtat är bara i snabbaste timmarna: Torrlövet mitt i älven är brett. Bekväm far till ledsna barn: han skickade sin son för att lida för oss. Skickat en Edinburgh för att dö för oss! Vi blev kramade av de piercade händerna och de lyfter upp oss där änglar är de gifter sig med oss, de är nöjda med oss. Kristus är Gud med oss. och det är närvarande och fungerar i kyrkan och efter kyrkan. Kyrkan är ute efter Kristus och enligt Guds vilja, verktyg frälsningen av Guds agerande. * Vi springer under din vård, åh Guds fosterland *. * O Mary, du skiner alltid på vår väg som ett tecken på frälsning och hopp.* ÄNDRA! · Betygsätt den här översättningen La Luce Di Maria È Nei Nostri Cuori. har lagt till ett 3D-foto Isgånarutc mkolgaScf.fgpo 0in7Ss:4oitredd8 · ‼️⚜️✨‼️⚜️✨‼️⚜️✨‼️⚜️✨ ‼️⚜️‼️Gesù all'anima:‼️⚜️‼️ Abbracciati alla mia Croce e cerca conforto e la forza nelle tue pene da me, crocifisso per te. Abbi fede nel mio amore che non ti abbandona e nella protezione di Maria, che ti è Mamma amorosissima. Tu soffri nel tuo interno e non sai manifestare le tue pene, ma io le vedo e ti consolo con grazie speciali di amore. Ti benedico con la tua famiglia. ‼️⚜️✨‼️⚜️✨‼️⚜️✨‼️⚜️✨ ‼️⚜️!! ️ Jesus till själen :‼ ️!! ️ Omfamna dig till mitt kors och sök tröst och styrka i dina sorger från mig, korsfäst för dig. Tro på min kärlek som inte överger dig och på skyddet av Mary, som är underbar mamma. Du lider inuti och du vet inte hur du ska visa dina sorger, men jag ser dem och trösta dig med ett speciellt tack av kärlek. Jag välsignar dig med din familj. Redigera eller ta bort detta Gilla · Svara · 1 min. Suzana Monika Suzana Monika amen https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=407414197090353&set=gm.3643338919056069&type=1&theater

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: