Monday, 12 November 2012

East of Eden

"certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of 'exile'. If you come to think of it, your (very just) horror at the stupid murder of the hawk, and your obstinate memory of this 'home' of yours in an idyllic hour (when often there is an illusion of the stay of time
and decay and a sense of gentle peace) 'stands the clock at ten to three, and is there honey still for tea' – are derived from Eden. As far as we can go back the nobler pan of the human mind is filled with the thoughts of sibb, peace and goodwill, and with the thought of its loss."

In the 1950s and early 60 cinema was full of landmark films which dealt with the issue of belonging, of feeling out of place a dissatisfied. Whether it was Rebel Without a Cause, On the Waterfront, East of Eden or even the less well known but excellent Hud it was a time when people were beginning to express something which people have been able to relate to ever since. Feeling out of place.  Feeling unsure about who they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to believe in. These films were so successful and have aged so well not just because of the quality of the acting but because we all know what it feels like to not belong. To feel out of place.

Yet this is a strange feeling to have. Why do we have this deep routed desire to belong? How can we so universally long for something which we have never really experienced. Even people who have always lived in the same place feel a need to belong and yet where would they belong more than where they currently are? What does belonging even mean? What does it feel like? What are we longing for?

The quote from the start of this is from a letter from JRR Tolien to his son and it seems to sum this up well. Our heart is crying out for something it has never experienced and the reason for that is because we were originally created for Eden and it is to there our hearts long to return. Our longing for home, or security, or comfort, or peace is all a longing for the Eden humanity was built for. So when Jesus offers water which truly satisfies and a real joy and peace he offers this because he offers us a return to the Eden we were created for. The Eden we are all longing for and the absence of which repeatedly plagues us.