Exile from Eden

Postlapsarian Kindergarten Songs

This morning I heard children singing “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” And it occurred to me that this song would not have been sung in Paradise – because while Adam might have been “happy” (though not in a way familiar to us) he did not know it.

Adam had not yet gained the “knowledge of good and evil.” The choice to disobey did violence to his soul; until this disaster produced passions that darkened his nous, Adam could not have spoken from experience of peace and suffering, blessing and catastrophe, ruin and healing. Until he suffered deprivation of grace, he had no idea what joy he stood to lose, what a priceless Pearl he was casting aside.

Of course, after the Fall, Adam came to know pleasure and pain as we experience them today – as a slavemaster driving us where it will, as a straitjacket on our options and understanding, and as a smokescreen blinding the human soul to Paradise, life in union with God, the joy to which we are called.

Only fallen Adam, having become a stranger to the joy of Paradise, could say from experience “I am happy, and I know it.” And the knowing made him weep outside the locked gates of Paradise.

Fr Silouan Thompson

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