Moses, and Peter Gregory:
The Eden story
Once upon a time, when the world was all new and looked like a
building site, all muddy and messy, no plants growing to cheer
things up, no rain either, just a fog hanging everywhere making
things cold and damp, God sat on his bottom on the ground and started
to play with the mud.
Had he been at the beach, I feel sure that God would have made sandcastles and had all sorts of fun splashing in the water and collecting shells. But because God was not by the sea, and he was hot and sweaty and tired from making the world, and there was still lots of work to be done, God made a big strong man out of mud, with great bulging muscles, and arms as big as my thighs. Just the sort of strong man that could help fetch and carry, and tidy things up.
Soon the mud man was finished and lay, all shiny and sticky, on the ground. God looked down at him and said, "I shall call this man Adam." God laughed, because he had really been quite clever with words. (In Hebrew 'adham means man, and 'adhamah means ground.) "This will always remind the man where he came from, and will keep him in his place," said God.
God stopped laughing and, kneeling next to Adam's head, he breathed into the cold mud lips.
A wonderful thing happened.
(I don't know if you ever made something out of clay at school and had it "fired" in a pottery kiln? If you have you will probably remember that the clay changed colour when it was fired. What had been a pale putty colour no doubt became a lovely rich reddish-brown. It was like that when God breathed into the mud man.)
First the face.
Adam opened his eyes. Blinked. And looked into the face of God.
God said, "I want holes dug here, here, and here . . no, OVER HERE!"
Adam ran around with a spade. Adam dug deep holes. Adam put in lots of soil and compost. Adam held the trees upright and steady as God carefully firmed the soil over the roots with his size 12 gumboots.
God planted the tree of life,
They were splendid looking trees. The tree of life, very tall and straight with large green maple-like leaves. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a bent over, weeping tree with grey leaves, rather like the weeping grey-leafed ornamental pear tree that grows in the White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle in England. (Mistakenly many people have since thought that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an apple tree, hence the Latin name for the apple family is Malus, i.e. 'evil'.)
Both trees were covered with delicious looking fruit. In the shade of the weeping tree, there was a rustling in the grass that sounded rather like someone dragging a length of hosepipe through it.
Later in the day God showed Adam the trees. Adam was very
"Talking of fruit," God interrupted hastily, taking Adam's
arm. Adam had been reaching out towards the fruit on the tree of
life. "Adam, you must promise me not to eat any of the
fruit of these two trees. If you do you will die!"
"These are special trees," said God. "Just for looking at. Remember that you are welcome to eat the fruit of any of the other trees in the garden, they are quite safe."
"Just as well!" said Adam. "Had me worried for a moment. I like fruit, and some fruit being, well, POISON .... I never heard of that before!"
From the shadow of the weeping tree came a faint sound that may have been laughter.
God experimented at first. Made some rabbits to mow the grass. A mistake! And bees to sit in the flowers. Some birds to make the sky look nice. A giraffe or two to clip the hedge that grew all the way around the garden. God made an elephant, because he liked the noise it could make with its trunk. And what a noise it made! All these things God made out of mud, just like Adam.
God made a Special Friend for Adam out of one of Adam's ribs.
God gave Adam the first anaesthetic in history, because he had to operate on Adam's chest. God pulled out a rib, and made a woman (in the same way that a gardener propagates a precious plant from a cutting.)
God closed up the wound in Adam's chest. Woke him up. And introduced him to the woman who was to be Adam's friend.
God said, "Eh, Adam meet Eve. And, um, Eve, this is Adam." (You must understand that formal introductions were rather new at the time, and God had not had a chance to practise such things, thus there was a certain stiffness.)
Adam and Eve said, "Gid-day." Shook hands. And went for a walk with God in the garden.
Actually God and Adam were a bit nervous and excited, because they had never had a chance to show off their garden to anyone before. (I suppose it was the first church garden tour.) Eve really enjoyed herself. After all, everything was new to her. She asked the names of the plants and animals. Admired the fine layout and the combination of colours. Adam and God found that it was much more fun to have Eve around to see their work. Very soon Eve was making helpful suggestions about how the garden could be made even better. She seemed to have a real knack for design. For suggesting unusual blends of textures and patterns.
Over the next few weeks the garden underwent some remarkable changes, some would say for the better! Eve was especially good at the little personal touches that God and Adam seemed to miss.
Mostly God laughed and joked, and enjoyed the new things.
Occasionally God would go a bit quiet, as though he was thinking about something.
Sometimes Adam worried that he and Eve might be making God feel a bit left out.
© Peter Gregory