God created us for relationships. Three ‘things’: “Soil”, “Breath of life” and “rib” in the Genesis account of Creation highlight the connectedness we have with our Creator and the rest of creation. “Soil”, “Breath of life” and “rib” are illustrative of the inter-relatedness we have with God, the World, and with other humans.
Adam was formed out of the dust of the earth. Adam was an “Earth-ling” or “soil-man”. The Hebrew Bible employs the adam/adamah word play to indicate their inter-connectedness. As “soil-man”, Adam is one with creation.
After God formed Adam, God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Gen 2:7) . We may be ‘earth-lings’ but we are ‘spiritual beings’.
We have the capacity to ‘spiritually’ connect with God. The Genesis account presents God walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8) in loving relationship with Adam and Eve.
God takes one of Adam’s ribs, makes the woman and brings her to the man (Gen 2:22). Adam recognises that Eve is a ‘perfect fit’ [” At last, here is one of my own kind” (Gen 2: 23)] and his interconnectedness with her [ Bone taken from my bone and flesh from my flesh (Gen 2:23)]
Adam and Eve don’t just live together in the Garden but they share a “committed relationship” with each other. Eve is Adam’s wife. Adam is to “hold fast to his wife and “become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). The Genesis story is about how Adam and Ever were both “each for the other” and “for God”.
I-Thou, I-thou and I-it relationships
We are related to God, the world around us and to each other. We are called to nurture these relationships. The word pairs ‘I-It’ and ‘I-Thou’ proposed by Martin Buber are helpful in nurturing meaningful human relationships. ‘I-Thou’ describes the world of relations.
We enter into a I-thou relationship when the feeling or idea of relationship is the dominant mode of perception. However, we can reduce the ‘I-thou’ to ‘I-it’ if we lose the idea of relationship.
Therefore, a relationship with a thing (book, music and art) can become a ‘I-thou’ relationship while a relationship between two individuals can easily become a ‘I-it’ relationship. It is the dominance of the idea/feeling of relationship that defines the nature and meaning of relationships.
Buber reminds us that all relationships are spiritual because they ultimately bring us into relationship with God, who is the Eternal Thou. God, therefore, is the relation to all relations.
We are called to meaningfully relate to God, the world around us and to each other. The ‘breath of life’ reminds us that we are capable of experiencing the ‘I-Thou’ relationship. Our connections with the soil (as ‘soil-man’) and our connections with the other ( bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh) reminds us that we are to nurture ‘ I-thou’ relationships.
We must nurture a ‘I-Thou’ which will in turn determine the I-thou relationship and redeem the ‘I-it’ relationships. This would enable is to live ‘fully’ and ‘meaningfully’ – Samuel Thambusamy
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