Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"The First Choice"

This is a short story that I wrote after reading Beverly Campbell's Eve and the Choice Made in Eden. As I read it, I was vaguely aware of visual images in the back of my head, like a movie, but with no soundtrack, as that seemed to be taken by the words of the book. The images were of Adam and Eve, and of Lucifer as well, in the Garden of Eden. When I finished the book, those images haunted me, and I felt compelled to write down the snatches of what I could hear. But I rebelled against that compulsion for some time, wishing it to go away. I felt like the Lord wanted me to explore that vision. I didn't want to, it sounded like too much work, and I didn't really know if there was a story there at all anyway. I argued with the Spirit, and finally said to Him, "If there is a story there you want me to write, then what is the name of it?" The answer, soft and gentle, but unmistakeably clear came immediately: "The First Choice." I knew then that the story was already written; I sat at my keyboard, and the story was complete as I give it to you now, in about an hour or two. I share it reluctantly, as I do not take criticism well, being quite thin-skinned, as it were, but the Spirit has prompted me to do so. So if one person can get anything out of it at all, that will be worth enduring the scorn of those who do not understand. I want to add that I shared this story with my good Bishop, with the caveat to him that I wasn't even sure if it was doctrinally correct. But he loved it, and said he is waiting for the next chapter, which I found encouraging. But he may be waiting for a long while.

The First Choice

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” he said to his wife, handing her a basketful of ripe pears.
“Hmmm…. Good morning...I was dreaming…I can’t remember...something about someplace far away, yet familiar somehow…” Her voice trailed off, as her thoughts drifted back into the place of dreams.
“You had a dream? Tell me about it,” he said. “Tell me all about it over breakfast. See here, I have brought you luscious ripe pears; you must be hungry.”
“Yes, oh, yes, I am hungry, but the images of the dream persist and it is hard to stay in this world,” she replied.
“Well, just tell me what you remember then; it is okay if you want to slip back into the dream.”
“You know how dreams are; they seem so solid, but when you attempt to take hold of them, they are mere wisps that slip away.”
“Yes, yes, I understand.” He stayed quiet for a minute, respecting her otherworldly state of consciousness, and allowing her to collect her thoughts.

“It was someplace beautiful, someplace tranquil, someplace ….” Her words trailed off as she tried to summon words adequate to express the images in her head.
“Someplace magical.”
“Surely no place could be as beautiful or tranquil as our home here,” he stated.
“It was very different from here; there were many…others…,” she replied.
“Others…?” He looked puzzled. “What others? Other what?”
“Other…people?” she said uncertainly.
“We know no others, except The One.”

“Well, I met someone else yesterday. He, too, seemed oddly familiar, but I cannot remember….”
“You met someone else?” her husband stated incredulously. “Who?”
“Well, he spoke his name, but I cannot remember it. Mephis…something. I don’t know. He was dark, not light like The One. And he spoke many puzzling words to me, that I did not understand.”
“You must still be dreaming. There is no one else in this garden or Father would have told us.”
“No, that part is not a dream. I would have told you of it yesterday, but it slipped my mind.”
“Tell me more about it,” he requested urgently.
“What, the dream?” she said.
“No, the other.”
“I would rather speak of the dream first, before it goes away; dreams are so fleeting.”
“Very well then, whatever pleases you, my love. Tell me of your dream.”

“It was someplace far away, very beautiful, and very…full….Father was there, and … Mother, too. And…others….our….” she stumbled to find words…”brothers and sisters…” she concluded.
“Mother? Brothers and sisters?” The words felt oddly foreign and oddly familiar to him at the same time. “Do go on,” he encouraged her.
“It was a tranquil place, except…hmmmm….It is hard to find the words. There was a…do you know the word ‘battle’?” she asked.
“Battle? Hmmm….when there is…conflict?”
“Yes! Yes, that is it! There were many…people…trying to figure something out, and they seemed to disagree. It was very confusing. I don’t know what they were fighting about, but it seemed terribly…important.”
“We will ask Father the meaning of the dream,” he stated.

“Now, tell me of the other you met, if you please,” he said.
“He was very like one of those animals we named serpent, the cold-blooded ones with scales. He asked me if I knew why we were here. I told him I know not, except what Father has told us.
He asked me what Father has told us to do. I said we have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. He then asked me if I knew how to do that. And Adam, I do not know.”
“I know, Eve. I have been pondering that commandment, too. I do not know what Father wants us to do. I do not understand. I know he has told me to care for and dress the garden, and that I understand. He has told us to give names to all the creations, which we have done. But I know not what He means by multiply.” Adam looked bewildered and lost.

She was suddenly seized with a great hunger, and reached for a pear. She chose the biggest one from the basket, and as she bit deeply into it, the sweet juices gushed down her chin.
“These pears are so delicious, so sweet and juicy.” She traced the lines of a pear still in the basket with her finger absently as she thought of the commandment to multiply.
“I am so hungry,” she said.
“Eat more pears,” he told her.
“I am full of pears. It is something else this hunger is for….”

She met him again, the dark one. He came upon her suddenly, startling her as she was harvesting a basket of raspberries, so that she almost spilled it.

“Oh, it is you again. What do you want?”
“A better question is, what do YOU want?” he spoke slowly and deliberately, emphasizing each word in turn.

“I want for nothing. Father has given us everything we need.”
“Oh, yes, he has….he has indeed….,” he replied enigmatically. “Except one thing.”
“What one thing?” she asked him innocently, but suddenly very curious.
“He has told you not to eat of the fruit of the one tree, has he not?”
“Yes, He has told us that if we eat of the fruit of that tree, we shall surely die.”
“And you believed him? Ye shall not surely die! God doth know that in the day that you eat the fruit of that tree, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
“But Father has forbidden it!” she exclaimed.

“What is the one thing that you lack? What is the one thing that you want above all?” he inquired.
“I know that you are hungry, even with all the wondrous fruit in this garden,” he taunted her.

She stopped to think, surprised that he knew of her gnawing inner hunger that no amount of eating could slake. She remembered this morning’s conversation with Adam about Father’s commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. Even he was uncertain how to accomplish this commandment.

She spoke,”I wish to know how to accomplish Father’s commandment to us that we multiply and replenish the earth.”

“Yes, I know, yes! You hunger for knowledge. And that is precisely what you need. Knowledge. What did he say about that fruit? He said that you may choose for yourself, did he not? Know ye not that is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? If you partake of its fruit, ye shall become as gods…”

She pondered his words carefully. She did not like the feeling that crept over her when he was speaking, as if something was somehow very wrong. Yet, his reasoning intrigued her. She was hungry, in a way that food simply couldn’t fill. Was knowledge what she hungered after?

“Is not the tree a pleasant tree to behold?” he asked her.
She replied,” Yes, it is quite lovely.”
“Does it not look as though it would be good for food?”
“Yes, it looks like it would be good for food.”
“Do you not seek after wisdom, after answers to your questions? Eat then, of this fruit, and it will make you wise, and you will know the answer to your very important question.”

“I must think of this thing,” she stated and left him suddenly and returned to her husband.

“Adam, that…other….returned to me. He is very strange, and I am quite perplexed.”
“What? He returned? What did he say to you?”
“He said my hunger is for knowledge, and the only fruit that will fill it is the fruit of the tree which Father warned us not to touch or we would die.”
“Eve! You know we must not touch it. We keep all of Father’s commandments.”
“Do we? How shall we keep the commandment to multiply when we know not what it means?”
“We will figure it out, but I do not trust this strange person. What did you say his name is?”
“He told me another name today. He said his name is Lucifer, the son of the morning, and that he is Father’s favorite son.”
“Well, I would rather you have no more discussions with him, as he sounds very dangerous.”

Eve pondered further on the matter. She agreed with Adam that the stranger seemed dangerous.
Yet, somehow, there was something in the words he spoke….a fruit to make one wise, as Father is wise, to know good from evil. She wondered what those words meant, good and evil. Oh, she knew good, yes, for all their life here was good. Father had pronounced it so. But what is this…evil? Probably nothing to do with filling her hunger.

Filling her belly with as many of the luscious pears as it could hold, she began to be very sleepy. The warm sunshine made her feel so relaxed, and the babbling sound of the nearby stream was hypnotic, and she fell into a dreaming sleep.

She heard voices in the dream, loud voices:
“No one will be lost….”
“It is vitally important…”
“It doesn’t matter….”
“Why can’t you see?”
“Agency is vital!”

The voices rushed by, like the currents in the stream, in a tumultuous blend that Eve could not discern much meaning from, but somehow she knew it was something she needed to know. Agency. What was that? She must speak to Adam; to Father.

“Husband? Do you know the word agency?”
“Agency? Hmmm…it has a familiar feeling on my tongue….I cannot remember….”
“Father told us that a veil was placed over our minds, remember?” she said.
“A veil? Oh, yes. I remember. But I cannot remember why.”
“There must be many things we cannot remember. Oh, Adam, it is so important that we find out how to keep Father’s commandment to multiply, I feel it so strongly in my heart.”

Again she was seized by hunger and thirst. She went to her favorite spot in the garden, where she had lain dreaming by the stream. She drank deeply of the sweet, cold, refreshing water until her belly was full. She gathered as many ripe pears as she could carry from a nearby tree and sat down in the soft grass to eat. She devoured each of them entirely, including the seeds, and nothing had ever tasted as wonderful to her. In her satiated condition, she spread herself out on the warm soft grass and fell asleep.

Again she dreamed….she was in a strange place again, but not the same place. She could hear the stream making gurgling sounds as it gently coursed by her, as if it were from some far away and long-forgotten world….

She heard soft laughter, not like her own, but more like the cooing of doves. She felt warmth, a presence. She was not alone. There was a small thing…a bundle…in her arms. She looked at it, and saw tiny eyes looking back at her. It was a small person. A…a baby! She snuggled it close to her, and nourished it with her own body….

“Asleep again? It seems that is all you do anymore, eat and sleep!” he said with laughter in his voice. “Do you want to see what I have been doing while you are sleeping? I have planted a vegetable garden. I put seeds in the ground, and they are beginning to sprout, and will grow into new plants which will bear fruit of their own.”

“Oh, Adam, I was dreaming again! It was so amazing!” she exclaimed. “I dreamt of being a mother.”
“A mother? You said that word before; I am not certain I know what it means.”
“Yes, Adam, we do know what it means, remember when God told you my name? He said it means the mother of all living!”
“Yes, I know, but I do not fully understand what a mother is!”
“I do,” she said, with a slow, secret smile spreading across her face.
“I dreamed of it. I held something…someone….very small…in my arms. It was a small person, just like us, only little. It was called a baby.”
“Baby! What is a baby?” he asked.

“It is like your seeds, Adam,” she explained patiently. “You plant tiny seeds, which grow into full-sized plants, which in turn yield fruit containing seeds which can be planted in due course.”
“Yes, I understand seeds. It is babies I do not know.”
“Adam, do you remember before we lived in this garden?” she asked.
“Not much,” he mumbled.
“Me neither,” she said, “but sometimes I have sudden flashes of insight, like lightning, or like the sound of the wind in the trees, and I remember…bits and pieces….”
“Sometimes I think I hear the voice of Father whispering to me….” she said softly.
“There was something we came here to do. I do not understand it all. But I think it has to do with our seed, Adam. And something to do with agency. And it is somehow all tied into Father’s commandment to multiply and replenish the earth.”
“And to why you are so hungry?” he asked laughingly.
“Yes!” she exclaimed.

The stranger appeared to Eve, full of questions. “So, have you decided? Have you decided to make the choice? Do you want to know the truth? Do you want to choose for yourself? Do you wish to know good and evil? Do you wish to become like God? Will you partake of the fruit of the tree?”

“I have not decided,” Eve stated flatly, wishing he would go away. “Why are you here, anyway? Did Father say you could come into the garden?”

“Oh, yes, he knows I am here. He cannot stop me. I know you have been dreaming. You are very important, you know. But you need some help from me. You do not know what very important assignment you have been given. But I know. I remember! You need only to partake of the fruit of the tree, and you will know, too.”

“I do not need your help.”
“Oh, yes, you do.” He spoke as a serpent, in sibilant tones.
“You want a child.” He stated quickly. “But you do not know how to get one, is that it?”

She looked at him, wondering how he knew of her dream, and wondered why her heart told her not to trust him, and yet….his words fascinated her. Yes, she did want a child. Children. Is this not what mothers do? Give life? Did Father not call her mother of all living? She wanted to be a mother. But how?

“No, I do not know how to get one,” she spoke softly.

“I do,” he said in a crafty voice.
“You must partake of the fruit, then your eyes will be opened.”

She always felt somehow uncomfortable when the serpent spoke, yet she suddenly noticed another feeling. A deep, penetrating warmth in her bosom. The pieces of the puzzle all flashed in quick succession through her mind….multiply…mother….baby….children….knowledge of good and evil….agency…choice….

“I must choose! I must choose!” she said aloud, though she was talking to herself.

“Yes! Yes! You must choose!” the serpent echoed shrilly.

Keeping her thoughts to herself instead of revealing them to Lucifer, she went back over in her mind the pieces of the puzzle…Father has given us the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. Suddenly, she knew what this meant. They must fill the earth with their seed, their offspring, who would go on to produce seed and offspring of their own…replenish the earth!
But, alas…she had no idea how. Did she have seeds that could be planted in the ground?
The images of the baby in her dream that she nourished with her own body came flooding back to her mind. That’s it! Babies can’t grow in dirt, but perhaps she did have some way of growing babies, within her own body. But she did not know how. She had to know! She simply had to know!

“That’s right, you must eat!” the serpent shouted at her as he saw her approach the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “You must take the fruit into your body!”

She reached out and took the fruit, grasped it but did not pluck it immediately. Father’s words that in the day they should partake of the fruit, they would surely die echoed in her ears. “I will die,” she thought to herself. “Yes, I will die, but first I will know how to have children. It is a sacrifice I must make, as the love that swells in me, and the hunger inside me for children is too great. I must keep Father’s commandment to multiply!” She spoke these last words aloud, and the Lucifer looked on with glee, believing that he had tricked her into doing wrong, to benefit himself and those who followed him.

Severing the fruit from its branch at last, Eve put the fruit to her mouth, and bit deeply into it.
Immediately, her head began to swim. She felt as though she could no longer breathe. She was
suffocating, she was dying, Father was right, she was going to die from this fruit, she should have listened to Adam. But suddenly, her head cleared. And she felt….different. She was aware. She understood agency. She understood why she had to partake of the fruit. She knew that the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth was greater than Father’s admonition that the fruit would bring death to them. Yes, it has brought death; she could feel it already, stalking her; but it had brought life, too. It had brought the opportunity for them to create physical bodies for all the spirits who were waiting to experience earth life. Oh, it would be hard, but it would be wonderful. They would know sorrow and pain, but also happiness and joy!

Carefully, she plucked another fruit from the tree, and took it to Adam. He saw her coming, bearing the fruit in her hands. He exclaimed, “Eve! What have you done? Father has forbidden us to even touch that fruit! You will die!”

“Yes, Adam, I will. And so must we all, in our turn. You must eat of the fruit as well, that your eyes will also be opened. Adam, I know what it means to multiply and replenish the earth now. We must create from our seed offspring, just like your seeds in your garden. Adam, we must bear fruit! We must bear children! Has Father not called me mother of all living? I know now, I remember, that we must beget children, who will have their own children, until the earth is replenished with people. Our assignment here was to create physical bodies like our own, for those spirit brothers and sisters we knew in the world we lived in before the garden.”

“Eve, what you are saying makes a great deal of sense, although I don’t understand some of it. But still, Father has told us not to eat the fruit!” he exclaimed piteously.

“Adam,” she began, with utmost patience and love in her voice, “Father gave us a choice. He wanted to see if we would choose to keep the commandment He gave to multiply and replenish the earth, which was the most important thing. Sometimes choices are not between a good thing and a bad thing, sometimes it means choosing the most important thing, the thing that will do the most good for the most people. I believe we are meant to have posterity, and I have made the choice to partake of the fruit, that we might have children.”

As Adam thought of Eve’s words, she continued, “I have made the choice already. I would that you partake as well, that we remain together, even if it is not in the garden.”

At that thought, Adam realized that Eve was right on that point at least, they had to stay together. He reached for the fruit, smiled at her, and said, “Babies, huh?” He put the fruit to his lips and bit down hard, and it made his head swim as he swallowed. He too was seized with a feeling of being cut off from his own breath, as if no air could penetrate his lungs. He wondered if this feeling was death. Yet Eve had partaken, and she was still alive. Suddenly, his eyes were opened, and he perceived that good and evil now existed in the world. They were no longer innocent, but were free to choose to do good or to do evil. He thought briefly of the serpent Eve mentioned…Lucifer…and an involuntary shudder went through him. He thought of Father, and of what He would say of what they had done.

And suddenly, Adam realized: They were naked.
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