Last week there was a threat of a snow storm.

The night before the snow began to fall there were news reports that things could get a bit hairy by the morning.  Schools and businesses began to play it safe by cancelling services based on the forecast.  The news stations were warning people ahead of time that road conditions could get extremely icy and travel may not be safe. The weather teams warned that things could get ugly in less than 24 hours.

Of course, this meant, I better get to the store before the snow comes.  I needed chips and salsa.

When I got to the store, needless to say, it was a madhouse.  The parking lot was full and people were scrambling everywhere.  Carts were being filled to the rim as hurrying people collided with one another in small aisles.  Everyone appeared to be in such a rush.  As if the blizzard was coming fast and all were in fear of being forever trapped inside the grocery store.  (really not a terrible place to get trapped in.) and yet, no snow had yet fallen.

From toilet paper to loafs of bread, from lightbulbs to canned soup, everyone was fighting for the essentials of life and then, with shopping carts filled, fighting to get these essentials through the checkout lane in a timely manner.  Lines were formed and people stood looking irritated.  Irritated with those around them. People were angry at people they had never met. Secretly wishing the person in front of them in line would just fall over so they could move ahead and get home.

And there I was with my bag of chips and jar of salsa. From the back of the line I could see the frantic faces on the grocery store employees.  Everyone was working hard, trying to get people through as quickly as possible.  I wondered to myself, how miserable they must be.  I’m sure they all would rather be someplace else.

And then I thought to myself, why do we need all of these people in the world?  Why do we have to have communities and gatherings anyway?

Then I saw the person working behind the register in my line.  She was obviously tired.  The line was long and continued to grow.  People were rushing through and she was moving as fast as she could. With all the chaos, there wasn’t time for community.

But even as she worked frantically fast trying to get everyone through, there was a friendly smile on her face.  As each person came through, they were greeted with a sincere, “Hello, how is your day today?”

Some would ignore her greeting and not say a word, but many would look up and smile. (Perhaps the first time they smiled since being in the store.)  They would reply with a quick rundown of their last hour and often talk of the great storm on the horizon.  And many would then ask the cashier how her day was going.

In a brief moment, during hustle and bustle, there was kindness.

Is that why we are all here together?

In the bible, specifically Genesis 2, God creates a man.  Formed from the dust like all of the rest of the creatures on ground and in the sky. Every living thing was made from the ground, giving us all something in common. But God did one thing different when he created the first man.  He breathed life into his nostrils.  Only then, did the first man become a living being.

This breath formed a special connection with God.  As humans, we all have a special connection with our creator.  An intimate connection.

After creating the first man, God planted a garden in a special place called Eden.  He made all kinds of plant life including trees.  Vegetation that was not only functional for things like food, but also beautiful. Among the trees in the garden were two that held specific purpose.  There was the tree of life.  And there was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

God placed the man in the garden to work and take care of it.  From our beginning, we have been called to work and to care for things.  God instructed the man that he could eat from any tree in the garden except one.  The tree of knowledge of good and evil.  (We’ll talk more about this another day.)

As God watched the man working and caring for things in the garden, he said “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a suitable helper for him.”

So many have taken this word helper and blown it all out of proportion, saying man is somehow better than woman and that females are to be subordinate to men.  This is doofus talk.

The Hebrew word translated in many bibles as helper is the word “ezer.”   Many psalms refer to God as Israel’s “ezer.”  This obviously doesn’t mean that God is subordinate to Israel.  The word ezer is best translated, not as “helper,” but as the word “Ally.” As in Friend.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

As the first man worked and cared for the garden, he had every animal around him and named every one of them.  Every animal lived in peace with the man.  Birds, bears, dogs, dinosaurs… The man was definitely not alone.

Even more importantly, the man had a special relationship with God.  God was with the man from the beginning.  He put the man in charge of the garden and the animals around him.  The man had a closeness with the creator that no other living thing on earth had had.

But God knew the man needed something more.  The man needed an ezer.

So, God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep.  And while the man was sleeping, God took one of the man’s ribs.  More specifically, using the original Hebrew word “tsela,” God took from the man’s side.

This too is worth noting.  God did not create from the man’s head, as if to say the woman is superior, and God did not create from the man’s feet as if to say the woman is inferior.  God created the first woman from the man’s side.  As in side by side.  As in equal.

God doesn’t wish for us to be alone.

Even though the man had just about everything he could ask for, (The word Eden means abundance or luxury.) God knew that the man needed something more.  God knew the man needed a friend, a spouse, an equal.

God knows that of us now as well.

None of us are meant to live this world alone.  We are all meant to share this world with others.  We are to care for the land as the first man cared for the garden.  We are to care for the animals as the first man cared for the first animals.  And we are to care for each other as the first man and the first woman cared for each other.  (Ezer.)

Just as God knew the man needed someone, he also knew that creating two people would lead to more. The creation of man and woman would lead to more men and more women.  Populations would grow.  Communities would grow.   Together, we come from the very dust that created the first man.  And together we have a special relationship with our creator.

Everyone in that grocery store had something in common with everyone else.  Everyone is loved by our creator.  We are meant to live together. Share together.  Work together.  Worship together.

I believe it is God’s desire that we share lives together and be friends with one another.

Some people get married.  Some remain single.  The apostle Paul remained single his entire life. But Paul also knew the importance of community.  Of being there for one another.  Paul also knew it is not good to be without friendships, family, people.  Paul knew it is not good for us to be alone.

When we share our world with others, it can be chaotic.  Like the overcrowded store before a storm it can remind us of the dust we came from that places us all in the same family as every other animal on earth.  We can look like a herd of beasts running and colliding.  (some of us can even smell that way.)

But even in an overcrowded store, we can be reminded of the things that make us different.  We can be reminded of the breath of life, given to us by God.  The breath that defines us as something different.  Of a special relationship with our Lord.  One that gives us the role of caretaker.  Caretaker for the garden and for each other.

Being reminded of the special relationship we have with God and of the special duties God has given us can help us all remember to do our best to care for ourselves and for our neighbors.  It can remind us that the world is ours to care for and to share with others.

When the cashier was asking people how they were, she was doing much more that.  She was bringing a sense of spirit and calm in a hectic circumstance.  In the eve of a storm, she was bringing peace.  In being kind to one another, we can celebrate our role in the universe and the special charge God has given us all.

By being in community with one another, we can help one another, feed one another, clothe one another, learn from one another, celebrate one another and love one another.

As a community of people, we can care for our planet and worship our creator together.

Together we can experience the breath of life.

And the breath of God.