Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In the Garden

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." 
For God cannot be tempted by evil, 
nor does he tempt anyone;  
but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 
Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; 
and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 
Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 
Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows. 
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, 
that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

"She was beguiled."

Beguiled, the little angels scribbled furiously in their note journals.

"Bamboozled, tricked, deceived, hoodwinked, misled, duped.  But she wasn't lied to."

Curio stopped scribbling and looked up in alarm.  "Not lied to?  How was it not a lie?  It was an apple - only an apple."

"An apple," the little angels repeated.

The man stopped his pacing around the classroom and looked at little Curio.  "It wasn't the apple.  It was the choice she made.  The choice to take the bite."

Curio squirmed under his gaze.  She always had to question.  Always had to ask.  Everything had to be spelled out and it had to make perfect sense.  Sometimes she just wished she could sit back and let something slide.  Like this apple thing.

She looked up at the Teacher.  No wings.  No halo.  A man.  With a kind face, laugh wrinkles and sunburn, longish hair, compassionate eyes.  A new member of the faculty, he had already won the hearts of many of the angels with his stories and parables.  He definitely knew his stuff - came VERY highly recommended - by the Big Guy himself, she'd heard.  But she still didn't understand what he was talking about.  Her little wings quivered.  Now or never,

"I just don't get it," she moaned.  "You can't take a bite out of a choice, a choice isn't a thing..."

"You're right!"  The man beamed, his smile fell on her like sunshine, warming from the inside out.  "A choice begins with intent.  Her choice was made as soon as she intended to take the bite.  The intent was the main course - the bite was just dessert."  He winked.

Titters and squeaks, Curio heard the ripple of reaction spread through the room.   Dessert?  It was an apple...  

He walked rapidly to the front of the classroom and moved his hands across the board.  He was creating lines.  The room grew quiet; the little angels focused their attention on the Teacher's drawing.  As they watched, the lines formed images, and then the images began to move.

"Here is the Garden," the Teacher narrated.

 The angels could see the lush greenery; they could smell fragrant flowers; they heard splashing water, and birds.  Curio thought she detected cricket song.  The Garden was everything and more than they remembered.

"Here is Adam."

The Teacher had drawn a fine man, strong and intelligent.  He was walking in the Garden alone.  But the angels knew he wasn't truly alone.  Never alone.  They could sense the presence of Adonai - even in the images on the board, and the images paled in comparison to what had truly been.  Many in the classroom were glowing at memories of the Beginning.  When the world was true.

Curio sat up straighter on her bench.  And watched.  And listened.  And felt.

A voice filled the classroom.  A voice she knew - like music, melody and harmony - resplendent in love, compassion, command, and joy.
"You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.  But you must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when you eat from it, you will certainly die."
Certainly die.... certainly die.... certainly die... THIS was the lie - Adam WAS lied to, she thought.  Curio's face had gone hot, and she knew from experience, red.  Despite the spreading heat caused by her stubborn inability to let this thing go, her hand shot up in the air.

"But they didn't die," she blurted out, before the Teacher could acknowledge her.

More twitters and squeaks.  The pictures stopped moving in the front of the room.  Curio shut her eyes tightly - she could feel their stares like pinpricks on her heart.  Mercy and Grace, her best friends, reached across the aisle to rest their hands on her shoulders.  She sensed empathy in their touch, and felt the wave of heat on her face fade.  Patience looked at her from across the benches and winked.  It was Curio's second wink of the day.

The Teacher stood by the board, hands not moving, smile gone, eyes commanding attention.
"Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."
"This is Eve."

Every bit as strong as the man, yet softer, feminine, and, Curio knew, equally intelligent.  The woman called Eve had taken Adam's hand. The angels could hear them talking and laughing as they walked through the Garden together.  A collective sigh whispered across the room.

"Here is Deceit."

The Teacher's voice rumbled beneath the memories like low and distant thunder.  The angels stared at the image of the serpent, sliding through the Garden, in and out of the shadows.  They watched, mesmerized; the creature in jewel tones wrapped itself around Eve's arm like a glowing, living bracelet.  They watched Eve's delight.  They heard the conversation; questions and answers about the nature of beauty, about purpose, about relationship, about life in the Garden.  And the angels felt a rising dread when they heard the snake whisper,
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The pictures shifted; the serpent wound around the tree in the center of the Garden.  The angels held their breath.
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
Breath released.  They already knew the end to the story.  Curio felt like she was standing at the edge of a great abyss, like she was teetering on a precipice.  One little whisper of wind... And then she remembered; angels fly.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The Teacher stopped the images and wrote the words across the frozen scene.  The letters glowed like embers.  He underlined.  The words changed color.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
"Who is speaking?" He asked the class.

"The serpent."  Curio looked at the notes on the board.   She carefully underlined the words he had highlighted.

"Who is he speaking for?"  The Teacher walked around the classroom as he spoke.


"Is he God?"


"Can he speak for God?"


Back at the front, the Teacher wrote a definition on the board.  "Copy this", he said.
Deceit:  concealment or distortion of the truth for the purpose of misleading; duplicity; fraud; cheating
  Then he rewrote the serpent's words again.  The highlighted words were different this time.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
"Are these statements true?"  He asked the class.

The angels blinked.  Curio was still confused.  It was only an apple.  Apples are apples - they don't open eyes to knowing good and evil.  And nobody died.

"But...," she looked at her hand - in the air, raised of it's own volition.

The Teacher smiled at her.  And then turned to touch the frozen images on the board.  The angels saw Eve take a bite of the apple.  They saw her offer the forbidden fruit to Adam.  They watched the man and woman cover themselves; they watched them hide.  They saw the snake slither from the tree and disappear into the Garden.  And they felt the sadness of Adonai.  A sense of something lost settled like a fog; a cold blanketing mist spilled into the classroom.  Curio heard a whimper in the back of the classroom.  Innocence was crying.  Kindness took her in his arms and comforted her.

And that's when she understood.  Curio's hand came down, slowly.  Adam and Eve didn't die; it was their close relationship with Adonai that could no longer exist.  They knew evil.  HE was totally good.

The statements were true.  The deceit was in the consequences.  But she was still confused about the apple.

"But..." For the third time, Curio's hand rose like a disobedient child.

This time, the Teacher came right to her.  He knelt beside her bench and took her face in his hands.  His words were quietly spoken; she could feel his love like velvet, soft and warm, luxurious.

"Dear One, do not fear - you are right.  It was only an apple.  It was only a bite.  The distance between good and evil is not a great distance.  The difference is in the intent.  My Father will always allow a choice.  He will always guide and direct.  He loves you too much to not - He is no dictator.  There is only a very small distance between an apple and a fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The difference is in the intent.  Once the choice was made to go against my Father's wishes, the apple became - it crossed that distance."

Curio sighed.  She understood.  She smiled at the Teacher and wiped a tear away simultaneously.

"It was an apple."  She said.

"They died."  She wrote, through new tears.  The sadness she felt threatened to overwhelm her.

She sensed rather than saw a change in the classroom and looked up from her notes.  The Teacher again stood at the front - and He was radiant.

"Eve was deceived," his voice, starting softly, grew in exuberance, "but My Father has a plan...".  He looked directly at Curio and winked.  "And His plans are pretty good, don't you think?"

Father God, thank you for your plan to rescue us from deceit and lead us to truth.  


  1. Hi Janet! I have read this progression, what leads to sin. Can't remember where, but it makes so much sense, doesn't it? The actual sin is really a result of so many decisions. If I will just slow down a bit, I can catch myself before I get into trouble.

    Very interesting post today.

    1. Hi Ceil,
      Sometimes I wish I had a little more training in theology before attempting these stories that get into my brain. I'll bet there are many ways/progressions to sin - deceit is kind of where the devil lives - so it was easy to write about. Truthfully, I began working around the 'certain death' statement, and the apple myth. - more than the sin itself - but, in the way of some stories, I ended up with choice and intent.

      I try to catch myself, too, but slowing down is hard, isn't it? I know I'm not always successful. Thank God for redemption, right?

      As always, I love hearing what you have to say. I hope interesting means 'thought provoking' - ultimately, that's why I write...

      I hope you have wonder-filled week.

  2. You and I are on the same page today. The deceit and progression of sin. I hope you'll skip over to read our post today not as some kind of promotion because it's the sad end to this same story! http://www.maidservantsofchrist.com/detail.asp?DetailID=302&Return=/

    1. Oh Helene,
      I visited and left a comment. You are exploring the subject in the real world and it's SO HARD! But necessary, because if we don't recognize sin and it's beginnings, we can't change. And WE HAVE TO CHANGE! I put God's plan for redemption at the end of the story - it is also at the end of yours...

  3. Hi Janet, "The distance between good and evil is not a great distance. The difference is in the intent." Such a great line. There is such a fine line. In just a few small steps before we know we've slipped away from our closeness with God.

    1. Hi Wanda,
      Yes, and the more I think about it, the smaller the distance is - I was thinking about 'desire' and how it seems to be a common root to both good and evil... Probably another story-in-the-making. It IS easy to slip away from our closeness with God - just recently, I found myself writing more and praying less. And then I MISSED our daily conversations. So - writing less and praying more - and happier with the balance. Thanks for coming over.

  4. These same words grabbed me. "The distance between good and evil is not a great distance. The difference is in the intent." But what I loved must was this reminder ---> "My Father will always allow a choice." Actually, as I re-read what you wrote I pretty much loved it all. I loved the way you told the story. So good! Thank you for linking this up Janet. Blessings to you.

    1. Hi Beth, I think I go to stories when I'm exploring an idea. I'm not an expert; I don't feel qualified to write a how to - so I explore possibilities in a story. What I guess I'm trying to do, most of all, is share that exploration. And you're right - those words defined the idea - which I now know I need to explore a little more... Thank you for the encouragement - and thanks for hosting this link-up! Wishing you and your family joy in the rest of your week.

  5. what a beautiful story Janet
    the innocence of a child trying to understand what so many fail to comprehend
    It was,m after all, only a bite
    as long as we remain convinced of that, we are lost

    1. Yes, as long as we continue to convince ourselves that 'just a little bit' won't matter, or as long as we don't recognize the little deceptions.... Life is truly a lesson we never finish learning, isn't it? Thanks for your insight and encouragement.

  6. Wow, such a well-done, descriptive anecdote, Janet! I really enjoyed it. So glad you linked up with imperfect prose! e.

    1. Thank you, Emily. I'm glad I linked with Imperfect Prose, too; thank you for sponsoring - I've read some really amazing posts and feel kind of humbled to be a part of it. Blessings! Janet


I know we probably haven't met in person, but I believe that the sharing of our ideas and thoughts, sometimes our hearts and souls, makes us more than strangers. I would like to say friends. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to my little space - I appreciate you.