a continuation of the Catholic 101 series.
When you teach first graders, crafts come with the territory. And in fact, it's the one part of teaching where I am a huge fail. I like to paint, and sketch, and knit, but I cannot, for the life of me, do little-kid crafts. (This may be because I failed cutting in Kindergarten.)
Fortunately, I am saved by two things: the fact that we often have a very large class (20-30 kids), in which case it's just impractical to do a lot of crafting, because it becomes chaos; and that my co-catechist has some great crafts that we do pull out every year, and the kids love.
One of them in the creation craft. The kids make a sheet illustrating the days of creation, and they basically get to let their imaginations run wild. I remember one year where I was watching the kids drawing, and I saw something interesting on Issac's paper.
"Issac, what is that?"
"It's a SEA MONSTER!"
"What's it doing on land?"
"Eating the people!"
Well, OK then.
Since the kids can't read (usually), this is a great way to take them through the beginning of Genesis, and how God created the world and the first people.
Yup, that's right--Adam and Eve.
One of the things we tell the kids is that, before the Fall, Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony with nature and with God. Animals didn't hurt them, for example. Snakes wouldn't bite them, they didn't have to worry about being around lions or other large animals. Everything was...perfect.
There is some debate about what the "fruit" actually was--in Europe it became an apple, but some people suggest it was probably a pomegranate. Whatever it was, it doesn't matter. The Fall--when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge--is what ending that idyllic existence in Eden.
One of my favorite poems is Milton's Paradise Lost, and this is how he starts his masterwork:
Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden...
See, before the Fall, there was no sin. There was no death. There was no pain. And then, bam. Original sin--and everything was lost. Everything was irrevocably changed.
In Milton's work, Jesus is seen as pleading with the Father to go save humanity--it's something he wants to do. I love that imagery; it's almost like Jesus as Knight, as Champion. But however you want to think about it, we needed to be saved and restored. And Jesus was going to do it.
But that's thousands of years in the future. For now, Adam and Eve are cast out of paradise.
(We don't teach the kids about Cain and Abel at this point--they learn that in later grades. Instead, we move on to Abraham, Noah, Moses, and John the Baptist--which is what we'll talk about next. )