St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, Homily on Man
The earth, created, adorned, blessed by God, did not have any deficiencies. It was overflowing with refinement. “God saw,” after the completion of the whole creation of the world, “everything that He had made: and, behold, it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31). Now the earth is presented to our eyes in a completely different look. We do not know her condition in holy virginity; we know her in the condition of corruption and accursedness, we know her already sentenced to burning; she was created for eternity. . . . Plants were not subjected either to decay or to diseases; both decay and diseases and the weeds themselves, appeared after the alteration of the earth following the fall of man . . . According to its creation, there was on it only the splendid, only the wholesome, there was only that which was suitable for the immortal and blessed life of its inhabitants . . . The beasts and other animals lived in perfect harmony among themselves, nourishing themselves on plant life.
St. Symeon the New Theologian, Ethical Discourses 1.1
Notice that it is nowhere written, “God created paradise,” or that he said “let it be and it was,” but instead that He “planted” it, and “made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” [Gen. 2:8-9], bearing every kind and variety of fruit, fruit which is never spoiled or lacking but always fresh and ripe, full of sweetness, and providing our ancestors with indescribable pleasure and enjoyment. For their immortal bodies had to be supplied with incorruptible food.
This is the reason why, when God saw from before the creation of the world that Adam would be saved through re-birth, He subjected creation to him, and put it under a curse so that, having been created for the sake of man who had fallen into corruption, it should itself become corrupt and provide him annually with corrupted food. . . . Which is to say that creation was not of itself subjected to humanity, nor was it willingly changed over to corruption and made to bear perishable fruits and to sprout thorns and thistles, but as obedient to God’s command Who ordered these things, and with the hope of a restoration.
Fr. Nikita Grigoriev, Faith and Delusion, p. 9-10
Here it is absolutely and vitally important to understand that everything which God created in the beginning was perfectly good. Everything was indescribably magnificent and good without even the slightest hint of evil, harm, grief or insufficiency, and certainly not death. God created everything in brilliant perfection. In that primordial world there was no illness, no fear, no danger. The animals did not fear or devour one another for they were given grass for forage, and man was given grain and fruits. God created man for life, not for death. God did not create death and in the primordial world there was no death. Even fruits did not perish and upon falling from a tree immediately metabolized into fragrant earth. Not only was man not threatened by death or illness, but even did not burn him and water did not drown him; all the animals and nature recognized him as their king and master and served and submitted to him in love and harmony.
All that man had to do was to grow and develop spiritually. Man, created in the image of God faced an unimaginably joyous future, infinitely perfecting himself in his God-likeness.