Watch For Adam
by Brian Douglas
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Watch For Adam
“Quick, Tantú, back to the den. Run!”
Dropping down on all four paws, Tannà, the mother grizzly bear, swung around and loped off toward the trees. Her little cub bolted after her at full speed. When they finally reached the safety of their cave, he looked up at her and asked, “Why did we run, Momma?”
“We ran because we saw Man, Tantú,” she replied.
“He did not look big, Momma,” the cub insisted, “and he smelled afraid.”
“Yes, child, he reeked of fear,” she scowled, “and that is why we ran. Man is dangerous, Tantú. You must always run.”
“Always, Momma?” Tantú was a bit confused, so he asked, “You stood up to look at him and then smelled him. Why didn’t we just run when you saw him?” There was something in the little cub’s voice that told Tannà it was time he knew the truth.
“We ‘Watch for Adam’, my son,” Tannà said. “Come, Tantú, curl up beside me and I will tell you of the First Ones.” When they were snuggled together, Tannà took in a long breath and sighed. She looked up as though at some distant memory and began.
“Tan was the first of our kind and his wife was called Tannen. This was many, many years ago, when the world was brand new. They lived in a forest called Eddèn where there were berries all the time. There was no winter, so there was no long-sleeping. The world was warm, but it was covered with clouds.
“Creator made the first man, Adam, to tend the forest. Adam gave names to every animal. He is the one who named Tan and Tannen. Do you know, Tantú, that the man had no fur?”
“Ooh, yucky!” cried Tantú. “Didn’t he get cold, Momma?”
“Well, I think the nights might have been a little chilly, Tantú, because Adam liked to snuggle up with Tan and Tannen each night to stay cozy and warm.” Tannà reached out her paw and tickled her cub, then drew him closer to her. Tantú giggled and squirmed just a little, then sank deeper into his mother’s fur.
“Later, the Creator made a mate for Adam. She was called Eve. Adam brought her to Tan and Tannen, and they loved her. So it was that each day Adam would get up early and set out to tend the forest. Eve awoke a little later and she and the bears would go into the forest to gather food. Those were wonderful days, Tantú. The bears lived with the man and the woman and they were happy.
“Each afternoon, Tan would listen for the man’s return. When he heard his call, he would stand up on his hind legs and ‘Watch for Adam’ to come through the trees.”
Tantú interrupted, “Like you did today, Momma?”
“Just the same, Tantú,” she replied. “When the man came near, Tan would run to him and tackle him! They played and wrestled until the man fell to the ground laughing, his arms lovingly wrapped around the bear’s neck. Eve would smile at them and say, “You two and your bear hugs!”
“What happened next, Momma?” the little cub eagerly asked. His eyes were wide open at the thought of bears and men being friends.
“After a time, Tan and Tannen had cubs,” she continued.
“Like me!” Tantú shouted.
“Yes,” his mother laughed, “just like you. In fact, they had two little cubs. Their names were Griz-lee and Griz-len. It is said they had fur as soft as rabbits. Eve loved to pick them up and hug them. They would lick all around her face, so she would close her eyes and laugh while she scratched them behind their ears. Eve especially liked to hold them close at night when she went to sleep.”
“But, Momma,” Tantú asked, “if the bears and Man used to be friends, why did we run from the man today?”
“Because, child, things changed.” There was a sense of foreboding in Tannà’s voice as she continued the story.
“One day, Tan and Tannen took their cubs on a little journey to find blueberries. As evening approached, Tan brought his family to where Adam and Eve were working in the center of the forest. It was later than normal. Each evening, the Creator would come and spend time with the Man. When Tan heard the Creator calling for Adam, he knew something was wrong. Adam had always come running when the Creator called. Now, for some reason, he and Eve were hiding.
“From behind the bushes, the bears watched as Adam and Eve came out from their hiding place. Their voices sounded angry, as they answered the Creator’s questions. Tan noticed that the people could not look in the Creator’s eyes anymore. They looked at the ground, mostly. There was no love, only shame. They had covered their bare bodies with fig leaves. When the Creator called out to the Serpent, who was also there, the cubs began to shake with fear. They drew close to Tannen.
“Tan felt anger for the first time. He knew Adam had betrayed him, although he didn’t know how or why. The longer he watched, the more he realized that Adam had betrayed all the animals, the plants, and even the rivers. The whole forest seemed to shrink back from the man, now. Before, the trees would bend their branches down so that he and Eve could pick their fruit. Now, in just a few hours, thorns had formed on the lemon tree, the berry vines and the rose. The avocado had lifted its fruit high above their heads. What fruit had fallen to the ground began to smell bad. The river roared its disgust and began to roll rocks back and forth, crashing them along its bed. But, this was just the beginning.”
“Mommy, I’m scared!” cried little Tantú. “I don’t like this story.”
“Yes, my son, you should be afraid,” Tannà said. “It is a terrible story, but a true one. It gets worse before it gets better. I must tell the most horrible part before I can tell the best part.”
“Does the story have a happy ending, Momma?” Tantú looked into his mother’s eyes searching for some feeling of peace.
“Oh, yes, Tantú!” Tannà soothed, “It has the best of endings.”
“Okay. I think I can listen,” the little cub said.
She began again, “What happened next changed everything for us bears. The Creator heard Tan and his family in the bushes and called them to Him. Of course, they loved the Creator and came out into the clearing where He stood with Adam and Eve.
“With a sigh and a sad, loving look, the Creator gathered Griz-lee and Griz-len to Himself. He held them close for a long time, whispered in their ears and then they fell asleep…forever. As the bears, the man and the woman watched in horror, He opened their skin and peeled it off of the dead cubs’ bodies. Their blood spilled all around and had to be washed off the skins in the river. Then the Creator fashioned clothing for Adam and Eve out of the soft fur.
“At the sight of his cubs’ blood and dead bodies, Tan rose up in a rage to his full height and shook the forest with a terrible screaming roar. He turned his back on Adam and ran with Tannen out of the forest, never to see his friend again. It is told that Tan’s fur became coarse that day because of his anger and sadness.
“When the two bears could run no more, the Creator came to them and comforted them. He told them to go into the high mountains and lonely places where He would give them food and shelter.
“‘Adam and his descendants will hunt you and your cubs for your fur,’ He said, ‘so you must flee from him. But one day, I will send a Second Adam to restore the forest. He will put all things right.’
“’How shall we know the day?’ they asked.
“The Creator replied, ‘Watch for Adam. When you stand up to see him, you will smell peace in the air. Then you will know that Adam has come again and all is well. Until that day, men will remember the horror of Griz-lee and Griz-len and fear the terrible rage of Tan. Even so, I will put a distant love in their hearts for you and your descendants. Though they hunt you, it is because they still want you in their houses. They will make little dolls of Griz-lee and Griz-len to comfort their children. These are for a memorial of your great friendship and sacrifice. I give them as a sign and a promise for Man, as well as bear, that one day I will restore your love for each other, so that you will live together in peace again. And you shall remember the name of Tan through all your generations, and how he loved Man. Wait for peace. Watch for Adam.’”
There was a long moment of silence after Tannà finished the story. Then Tantú asked, “What does peace smell like, Momma?”
“Well,” Tannà replied, “no one really knows. Some have said they think they have smelled it on a few men, but that it was only a faint whiff in the air, tinged with sadness. When Adam returns, I think peace will smell very sweet.”
“Me, too, Momma!” yawned the cub.
As Tantú snuggled down to sleep, Tannà whispered, “Wait for peace, little one. Watch for Adam!”
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
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Oh -I LOVE this. What a wonderful and poignant story. So powerful--and a super way to get the message across.
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