A soft mist rises through my garden, and droplets of clear water form on plant leaves and flower petals. Like miniature lenses, these crystal beads of moisture refract the soft rays of the sun while magnifying the beauty beneath. Catching the filtered light coming through the canopy of evergreens and hardwoods, they transform the garden sanctuary into a sparkling world of serene magnificence.
Groupings of flowers and foliage flow like a living river through the garden. Large rocks, selected for their size and character, accent different areas and give a feeling of depth. Trees with textured bark and vibrant leaves breathe life into the atmosphere and shelter feathered and mammal wildlife. Quiet pools of reflection and gentle waterfalls bring visual and aural harmony to this tranquil retreat.
A single path winds through the garden; it skirts a quiet meadow and meanders beneath the silvery leaves of a stand of river birch before coming to the heart of my creation. A sea of ferns and flowering shrubs opens up to reveal a beautiful ornamental tree standing guard over a fountain.
Transformed by a labor of love, this once barren wasteland is now a peaceful place of unsurpassed beauty. Everything was done by hand by carefully following a meticulous design. It was all predetermined for the purpose of providing a haven to be enjoyed and appreciated, and each day, when the shadows lengthen, a cool breeze beckons me to wander the path and take in the beauty of my handiwork.
I enter into this quiet realm with the expectation of coming away renewed, but today something feels out of place. Instead of relaxing, my spirit quickens, and I am instantly tense and alert. Suddenly I hear arguing, and a primal fear grips my heart. I rush along the path toward the interior of the garden, where the voices become more distinct.
"Be quiet! He'll hear you."
"We're going to die."
"No, we aren't. Just take a little taste."
"But he said not to touch or eat them."
“Just do it. Look, nothing’s happened to me.”
“I feel really bad about this.”
"Will you hush? I think he’s coming."
"Now what do we do? He’s going to be mad!"
I reach the center in a panic and yell for my children. Reluctantly they appear, eyes downcast. When I see the berries from the tree lying on the ground, and the red juice staining their lips, I grab my daughter's shoulders. "Why were you hiding…what have you done? Did you eat these?"
My son breaks into sobs. "She said it would be all right."
One glance at the terrified look on my face brings tears to my daughter’s eyes. “They looked so good; I didn’t think it would hurt just to taste them.”
By now the tannins and acid in the juice have begun to take affect. Praying for mercy, I seize both of their arms and race back to the house. A call to the Poison Control Center confirms my fears. There is no antidote for these berries once they are ingested. All I can do is have them rinse their mouths out with cool water and drink whole milk…and wait.
An agonizing hour later, I answer a follow up call from the Poison Control Center. Although my son and daughter had just tasted the berries and didn't consume enough of them for it to be life-threatening situation, I am still shaking as I kneel down in front of them.
“That was the one tree I told you not to touch; it's just for decoration. There are dozens of other berries and fruits you are allowed to eat. Why would you do this? You are old enough to know better. You could have died."
The look in their eyes reveals how scared they are, though I honestly believe they have no clue as to how close to a personal disaster they have come. Their fear was born of knowing they had done wrong in disobeying me, and that I would be angry. My fear is in knowing their disobedience could have cost them their lives.
Clutching my Bible, I walk with my children back to the center of the garden. They sit on the ledge around the fountain and watch me pick up the berries and dispose of them. When I am done, I’m going to sit down and discuss the third chapter of Genesis with them. Perhaps the serenity of this garden can be redeemed.
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