I walk in Eden. Dappled light paints shifting patterns on my legs and arms as my feet sink into a lush moss carpet. My steps unleash the scent of green growth; it mingles with the hints of lemon and spice lacing the air in this part of the garden. I stop a moment. Listen. How can I begin to describe Eden’s music? It’s the sigh of the wind, the chorus of birdsong, the buzz and snuffles and purrs of all the creatures in our care. It fills and thrills, inviting every voice, even my own, to join in the chorus. I do not sing today. I only listen. Yearning to hear, just one more time, another voice – His voice. Rumbling with laughter or humming an ancient tune or calling my name.
But His voice is silent.
Despite the jarring voice, I try to cling to the remnants of my dream world – the serenity, sweet air and sounds of life. Yet this voice is insistent.
I open my eyes. Adam stands over me, face creased with impatience. “It grows late. The goat needs milking.”
Momentarily, confusion courses through me. Why did the lark’s dawn-lullaby not wake me? Then I remember. Eden is gone. That was a different life, one lost long ago. A familiar grief tightens my throat and the refrain of my banished days whispers once more through my heart: What have you done?
Together Adam and I toil in the heat that day, clearing the ground of thistles and thorns and digging trenches for the seed from our last, meagre crop. My back aches when I finally sink down next to him at the fire that night. We sit in silence, watching the sky grow dark enough to reveal the stars.
“Do you miss Elohim’s voice?”
Adam startles at my question. The past has become a jagged—seldom breached—wall between us. In the beginning we cried together, drawing comfort from our shared loss. Over time, the shame of what we had done turned to brittle blame and resentment. But our endless, useless if only you hadn’ts finally gave way to an uneasy avoidance of everything linked to our past life.
“I dreamt I walked in Eden last night,” I continue. “Do you remember that part of the garden where the lemon trees grew?”
He nods and even in the low light of the fire, I see the sudden wistful look in his eyes. “The air always smelled of lemon and spice there. And the foxes had a burrow near the two largest trees.”
“Yes. I’d almost forgotten.”
Perhaps the silence that follows is a little lighter.
“I do yearn to hear His voice,” Adam says when only the echo of my question remains. “I wonder if He yearns for us too.”
It’s a startling thought. I imagine Elohim walking through Eden alone with only the animals for company. Of course, He could go talk to those sentries with the flaming swords that He posted at the edge of the garden. Briefly I wonder if they are still there.
“If He wanted and loved us so much, He wouldn’t have banished us.”
Adam looks up sharply. “That sounds like something the Deceiver would say.”
“It’s true, isn’t it?”
“Nothing the Deceiver says is true. He promised us safety and we got fear. He promised us knowledge and we’re lost and confused. He told us we would be like Elohim and look at us now.” He holds his arms out wide. “No glory, no joy, no peace or purpose. Every day just a struggle to survive.”
I sense that we draw close to a quarrel so I retreat back into the silence. It’s not only Elohim I miss; it’s Adam too. He was different in Eden. There he looked at me like I delighted him and he spoke to me with tenderness. We laughed much and played often. Adam was so easy to love in Eden.
“Eve.” Some of the old gentleness is back in his voice as he tentatively draws me into an embrace. “I don’t think Elohim stopped loving us when He banished us from Eden.”
“How can you say that?”
“Because sometimes I hear His voice in the whisper of a breeze. And with every seed that grows, I know He has not forgotten us, that He nurtures us still.” He looks up and I follow his gaze to the star-laden sky. “I sense His majesty in the heavens every night. Something about the stars reminds me of Him.”
If I’m honest, they remind me of Him too, but it’s not the same as walking side-by-side with Him.
Adam seems to know my thoughts. “And the more I think about it, the more I think He has a plan.”
“A plan for what?”
“Restoration.” He speaks quickly before I can object. “Remember the last thing He said to the Deceiver?”
I shake my head. All I remember is standing before Elohim with my head bowed, awash with shame at my near nakedness and the knowledge of what I had done.
“He said the Deceiver would strike at our offspring’s heel, but that he would crush the Deceiver’s head. Don’t you understand?” Adam’s words are suddenly animated. “One day a child of our line will destroy that evil serpent forever.”
“The Deceiver is too clever and powerful for that.”
“But not as powerful as Elohim.”
But in the morning when I awake, something has changed inside me. The shame has lifted and the refrain of regret is quiet. The first chords of a new song ring through my heart.
I sense it is a song of hope.
“Banished,” based on Genesis 3, is the first story of the new book, Journeys: On ancient paths of faith, by award-winning author and MAI Trainer Joan Campbell of South Africa. The book contains short stories that take readers into a Bible account, reflections and prayers. Joan also authored Encounters, a book of short stories, reflections and prayers, and the fantasy trilogy The Poison Tree Path Chronicles (Enclave Publishing), consisting of Chains of Gwyndorr (winner of the 2017 Illumination Award), Heirs of Tirragyl and Guardian of Ajalon. See all Joan’s books available on Amazon. Journeys will soon be available for purchase as an ebook there. Sign up to Joan’s newsletter be notified when it’s available.
Eve Image (freedigitalphotos.net): “Illustration Digital Painting Forest Scene” by saphatthachat