Eden: No Walk in the Park

Thus, they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning.
And of their vain contest appeared no end.

Milton

I remember walking away, looking for Adam and telling myself, Wow, Eve! The big green snake was scary, but he really talked sense. I ate the fruit and I didn’t die. Anyway, God loves me so much I’m sure one piece of fruit is no big deal for him.

Scene I: The TKGE

Shortly after we arrived in the park God had told us, “Enjoy, celebrate, but don’t eat any fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or you’ll die.” (Adam and I referred to the tree as “the big TKGE.”)

So I ask Adam, “If God loves us, why would he deny us good fruit?”

Adam says, “I don’t know; he has his reasons, I guess. Maybe it’s a test. Anyway there’re so many other good trees.”

“Yeah, but I wonder if the TKGE fruit looks different. There must be something special about it.”

“Maybe, but I’m busy here with the vegetable garden, so let’s talk about it later.” (In those special days, guys ate green, leafy vegetables.)

But I’m wondering why God put the tree in the middle of the park. I’m thinking I’ll walk over and take a good look at it. I should take Adam along, but he’s always busy tinkering, doesn’t like to be disturbed, never likes to go anywhere, would probably be bored, and anyway, he probably would try to keep me from going.

I’m walking among the maple, oak, apple and pear trees, and just happen to spot the TKGE. It seems kind of ordinary, really, but with big red fruit. No fence around it or anything. I think, I’ll just walk over and look at it; I won’t touch it.

Then I see a form gliding through the nearby trees, now revealed, now hidden by the leaves.  Smooth, iridescent green skin, dark unblinking eyes, looking steadily at me. I jump back, but he fascinates me. It’s kind of like the dirty parts in a movie—you try not to look, but you do anyway.

I startle when he speaks—“The fruit trees are great, aren’t they? Did God say you can’t eat from any of these trees?”

“Oh no, actually we can eat from all of them, except we can’t even touch that Knowledge Tree there or we’ll die!”

“You won’t die! It’s just that he knows that if you eat it you’ll have great knowledge like he does. He’d rather keep you in the dark. I’ve been around here for awhile; I know how these things work. Anyway, you’re special. If God loves you, he wouldn’t want to deny you anything, would he? What’s the point of creating the big red fruit if he didn’t mean for you to eat any?”

I thought, That seems reasonable, like the voice of experience. I’m feeling the pull of the serpent’s eyes, and smelling the sweet fruit. I kind of wish Adam were here with me….

All at once, I reach out my hand, grab the fruit, and eat.

The fruit explodes sweet in my mouth. I eat the whole thing but, not wanting to litter, I save the core. And I didn’t die! I can’t wait to tell Adam. The snake has disappeared.

Scene II: The God-encounter

I find Adam tilling the kale and Swiss chard (green and leafy). “Adam—I ate the TKGE fruit and look, I didn’t die! It tastes so sweet. We must have misunderstood what God said.”

“O boy! Do I have to go every place with you? Who’ve you been talking to?”

“Well, you were busy and I was only going to look at it.”

“But what’re we going to tell God? He said don’t eat it.”

“Why did he put it there if he didn’t want us to eat it?”

His face clouds, he hesitates, then suddenly he grabs the core from my hand and eats it.

Just like a guy, I think. But is he really hungry? Or just so dependent on me that, realizing I might be kicked out of the park, he wants to be sure he’ll be kicked out with me?

Now Adam starts looking me up and down–and up and down. I blush. Strange; I’ve never felt self-conscious before. I find some fig leaves and use fibers to sew them together to make loincloths for us. As an afterthought, I sew two additional small round ones for me. We walk deeper into the forest because for the first time, we just want to be alone. And I feel something new—guilt.

After a couple of hours I hear God calling out: “Adam, where are you?” (Why doesn’t God call for both of us?) We walk deeper into the forest, playing hide and seek.

God finally catches up with us and says to Adam, “Why are you hiding?”

So my smart husband comes up with humankind’s first excuse: “I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”

God asks, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat the fruit I told you not to eat?”

Adam gets a pained look on his face, immediately confesses, and then passes the buck: “Yep, I did, but this woman that you gave me insisted that I eat it, and you know her—I just couldn’t say no.”

At this point God rolls his eyes, gives up on Adam, and turns to me. I boldly re-pass the buck: “Well, the serpent told me to eat it, and you know weak little me—no sales resistance. Adam wouldn’t come with me—he didn’t even warn me.”

God finds the serpent and tells him the bad news: “Henceforth you’ll be looking at life from the ground up. And people will step on your head.” The unblinking eyes disappear into the greenery.

Then he turns to me: “It will hurt you to bear children, and now your husband will be telling you what to do.”

“You mean Adam? Really? How well do you know this man? He can’t even change his mind without consulting me. Can’t follow instructions, no initiative. How could he be the leader?”

“Well, Eve, you know he’ll be ticked if he isn’t in charge. And even though you have to pretend he’s the leader in public, you can always influence him at home. Trust me; this’ll work.”

“Well, I guess I’ll just have to try to keep Adam from screwing up.”

Then God turns to Adam: “Failure of leadership! Why didn’t you stop her from going? Why didn’t you tell her not to talk to strangers?”

At this, Adam is probably thinking, I’ve tried that before, but you know how hard it is to tell her anything.

God tells him, “You thought life was complicated in the garden. But now you’ll have to dig in harder soil, wrestle with thorns and destroying insects, and perform sweaty labor. It isn’t going to be a walk in the park.” Adam hung his head and thought about his easy work—the garden vegetables had almost sprung up by themselves. Then he made a fateful decision that has influenced all of his male descendants—he promised himself, I’ll never willingly eat green leafy vegetables again.

Then God kicked us out of the park and posted a guard so we couldn’t get back in. He replaced our fig-leaf loincloths with the skins of slain animals. I hung my head, but Adam asked God if he could eat the animal meat.

Scene III: Outside looking in

I remember those early “outside” days. We hung on the chain link fence like banished traitors, looking in at the beautiful park we could never again enter. Some brambles were already sticking their ugly heads through the fence into the park, and the grass inside was browning. I thought, How ungrateful we were; how much we took for granted.

Adam asked me, “Eve, why did you wander off like that? Anyway, who ever heard of a talking snake? Why didn’t you ask me before you ate the fruit?”

“Well, why didn’t you warn me? Why didn’t you put your foot down? Then I never would have gone. Or at least, you should have insisted on going with me. Failure of leadership.”

“Eve, Didn’t you even stop to think? You knew God had a good reason to prohibit that tree.”

“Well, maybe, but it’s not my fault you ate the fruit that I gave you.”

And so we passed the hours in fruitless arguing.

 

How was I to know that my simple decision would affect our grandchildren’s grandchildren? That they would only be able to dream about a walk in the park? They’ll blame us for eating, but I’ll bet they would’ve done the same thing. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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