Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Work (07/27/06)
TITLE: In the Shadow of the Harvest
By Deborah Bauers
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The two massive iron gates groaned in protest as invisible forces pushed them slowly toward each other. Josiah stood by, watching and shaking his head, in stupefaction of the events that had unfolded in the garden this day. He inserted the Master's key into the gate's keyhole and listened for the clicking sound to signify that the portal to the garden was secure. Then moving into position he began the first of what would be an endless succession of night watches. Ten feet tall, Josiah was a formidable angel in the service of the Almighty; and from now on, he was the keeper of the Eastern Gate in the Garden of Eden. His sword, driven into the ground next to him, gave off an incandescent glow; a white-hot flame that would burn until the end of time.
Adam clenched his fist into a ball and shoved it into his mouth to prevent himself from howling like an animal. He felt so many painful things, but had no words to express them. A hot and salty wetness pooled beneath his eyelids and fell in droplets onto the ground. Adam wiped his left hand across his face and stared at the moisture on his fingertips, bemused by the unfamiliarity of his tears. In desperation, he pressed his face against the gate and called out to Josiah,
"Help me, Josiah; please...Speak to Father on my behalf!"
The gatekeeper blankly stared at Adam and then replied in a hollow voice:
"I have no will, but that of the Master's, Adam. I cannot help you. Take your wife and leave this place. These gates will not open again, to you. "
Adam's arms fell to his side in defeat, as he despondently turned his face from the wall that separated him from his home. Reaching out, he grasped Eve's hand and began to walk away from the Garden of Eden. For a time, Josiah's sword pierced the darkness, providing a shaft of light for the couple to walk in. Eventually the pitch of night and the darkness of Adam and Eve's souls overcame them and they crumbled into the weeds and dirt and fell into fitful sleep.
When Adam awoke, the sun was already high overhead, its relentless rays pressing themselves into the scorched earth. Turning, he discovered that Eve had already risen and was not in sight. Adam panicked and cupped his hands to yell for her...and then he saw her in the distance, hunched over in a grassy thicket. Drawing closer, he could scarcely believe what he was seeing. His wife was pulling up fistfuls of grass and shoving them into her mouth!
"What are you doing, woman? Have you lost your mind?"
"I am hungry, Adam! Look around you...Do you see any fruit to eat? I am satisfying the gnawing in my belly!"
Adam stood helplessly and watched his wife's mad behavior. He rubbed at the tightness that was forming across his chest. As he did so, his hands brushed the tiny forgotten pouch, still hanging around his neck. In his haste to open it, he spilled its contents onto the ground. As Adam gathered the precious seeds, he recalled how Father had walked him to the gate and then pressed the pouch into his hand, saying,
"Take these seeds, Adam. Put them into the ground and cover them with dirt. Water will fall from the sky to soften them. Watch for the tiny green shoots that will appear. Another kind of plant will come from the cursed ground to try to destroy your garden. Uproot it and tend only what I have given you. "Work" diligently, Adam. In due time, you will reap a harvest of food for you and your wife to eat. You must go now because of your disobedience, but one day....I will send a redeemer to the sons and daughters of Adam and will gather them home."
"Work!" What did this mean? Adam knew nothing of planting, watering, and weeding. He only knew how to harvest. Perhaps "work" was all that God had instructed him to do, before the harvest could be reaped... Adam stared at the seeds as if he might see his future in them; and then he clenched his fist. He would hold tightly to the promises of God. One day...Father would open the gates and they would all go home. Until then, he would "work" to reap the harvest, and wait for the man called "Redeemer" to come...
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