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The Flaming Sword

It seemed that even the animals were offended by us. I had never heard such raucous noise before. It followed us that morning as we reluctantly left our home. A piece of fruit was propelled down from a tree and hit me. I looked up to see apes swinging through the trees. They screamed and screeched their rage. The colorful birds I so loved now flew in flocks away from us. In the distance I heard hostile bellows of various animals. I could not identify their voices for I had never heard these sounds. Not only the Lord was firmly evicting us from the garden, but the animals and the garden itself seemed to have turned against us.

The parting words of the Lord still circled ominously in my mind, but I didn't wish to think about them right now. Indeed I didn't understand them. "Dust, dust," was all I could think.

"I am afraid," I whispered to Adam.

We were now standing just outside the gate of the garden. I didn't recall ever having been here. Ever since I had eaten from the tree which God had forbidden us to eat events had happened so quickly that I hardly knew what was happening anymore. We had been driven from the comfortable security we had known just yesterday.

As we turned to face away from our home we saw that the sun was swiftly rising into the sky. The coolness of early morning was turning to a new uncomfortable feeling. Always before the sun had been kind and caressing in it's warmth.

The unaccustomed feeling of a skin coat was irritating me. Even though this coat annoyed me I was thankful for it. Waves of hot and cold humiliation ran through my body as I realized again that as long as I could remember I had run free completely exposed in front of the one being I adored above all others. My Lord, who was clothed in light, had beheld my nakedness! I ran my hand along the skin coat, feeling it's texture and wondering that I should wear the skin of an animal. Was this one of the reasons for the rage which we suddenly encountered from those who only yesterday had been our friends and companions?

"Why did our Lord make these coats of skin? From where did these skins come?" I was curious and shamed at the same time.

"I don't know, Eve, and I am afraid too. I am afraid that there will be many things different that we won't understand," Adam's voice had an unaccustomed tremor.

"Lord, Lord!" I turned in anguish toward the gate. "I am sorry!"

I ran toward the garden. In the middle of a step I stopped. A bolt of lightening ripped down to the earth in front of me. Several more ripped down in swift succession. I backed away in a daze as the sound of them shook the sky. Adam ran up to me and caught me to him. As I finally controlled my fear and shock I became aware of something strange and totally outside my experience. As Adam held me he contemplated a group of winged creatures which hovered above the ground. If their mode of entrance had not been enough to impress us their appearance was.

Their eyes watched us, many eyes, some blinking, but always many others to attend to us. They had so many eyes that they could observe in every direction without having to move or turn. They were like birds in that they had wings. But a bird only has two wings, these had six wings apiece. And they were huge. They also had faces, one had a face closely resembling our own faces. Another had the face of an eagle. One had the face of a calf. The last had the face of a lion. Fire played all around each one, dimming and brightening. Flashes of lightening came from them. They were very awesome and frightening. I turned my whole attention onto them in fascination. They were beautiful in a way in which I couldn't describe. I disengaged myself from Adam's hold and slowly walked closer to them. Their wings suddenly beat the still air into a violent wind and one of them moved toward me in warning. I quickly drew back. All the open eyes calmly regarded me. My breathing came quicker. As I retreated so did the creature. It moved without turning, it simply floated back into the position it had held. I moved toward them again, to see what they would do. This time they all swiftly surrounded me on three sides. This time I felt real fear and took the retreat they offered gladly. I decided I had seen enough.

I slowly backed away until I was standing with Adam once more. I clung to him as if he could protect me from these strange and forbidding guardians. I must be a fool to challenge them that way. What made me want to do these things?

I now also saw a long, sharp object which somehow had been formed of hard shining metal. It whirled with great speed in every direction. Flames of fire came out from the constant whirling. It made a noise like wind coming through a narrow valley. I would not dare approach it or the creatures again.

"These winged beings are God's. They are from his home. I am afraid that they are here to keep us outside the garden," said Adam.

"I am sure you are right!" I whispered in awe. "And what is that spinning thing?"

"The Lord mentioned to us that he would place a flaming sword at the entrance to keep us out of the garden. This must be the flaming sword."

After a pause Adam continued, "Besides the tree of knowledge of good and evil there is also a tree of life in the garden. Where it is and which tree it is I don't know. But we are not to be permitted to eat from it. If we did we would live forever. God will not allow us to live forever after what we have done. I heard him say it," he explained sorrowfully. "Why, oh why were we so foolish? This was our home and we will never be allowed to come into it again. We will never walk with our Lord or visit the animals which live in it. We have changed and have no place in it."

"I am sorry, Adam. It is all my fault! I have gotten you into this, I am sorry. I just wanted to be like God too. The serpent said I would be like God. I thought God would be happy to see that I had improved and was more like him. I wanted to be wise and noble. I wanted to know things. I wanted to be like him.'

Adam merely stood gazing forlornly back at the garden.

Seeing Adam this way was upsetting. In my shame I turned away and spoke, I don't know if Adam heard me. "I see now that I was wrong. I only imagined that I could be like God. How could I have let that serpent trick me that way? I know God told us not to eat of that tree. But I still do not understand why it was so wrong." I hung my head. What did Adam think of me now? I had persuaded him to eat the fruit also. Adam had disobeyed God because I had talked him into it.

I felt small, afraid, ashamed, confused. Wasn't this just a dream? Wasn't this just a bad dream? I had never had an unpleasant dream until last night, couldn't this be part of that same dream? Couldn't I wake up and find that this thing had never happened? Why, I couldn't understand how I could even imagine such a thing happening!

I looked again at the wings and the countless eyes of the hovering creatures. This wasn't a dream, it was real. My fascination with the tree had ended horribly.

The sun was higher now. How long had we been here? Now I hopelessly turned my back on the only home I had ever known and carefully looked out at the distance.

Adam was already looking. His eyes were narrowed and I could see that he was deep in thought.

"It looks so desolate out there, doesn't it?" he said quietly.

"Yes, it does. And it looks so big. Where will we go? What direction will we go? It looks so faraway, no matter which way we choose?" I could feel that I was narrowing my eyes also. The glare of the sun hurt them. The sun no longer felt friendly as it always had. It felt burning as if it had turned against us also and would destroy us.

"What will happen to us, Adam? Where will we sleep? What will we eat? What have I done?" My body began to shake, and water began to run from my eyes and down my cheeks. It ran into my mouth and tasted salty. I felt the way I had yesterday.

"I am afraid. I don't know what will happen to us. God told us that we would die. But we will do what we have to do," Adam said.

"But why aren't we dead now?" I cried. "Maybe we are dead and don't even know it." I couldn't stop myself saying these things, I didn't know what was happening to me. "Is God playing some kind of trick on us, telling us we will die and not telling us what it means and what it is that we have done so wrong?"

"God would never trick us! If you hadn't always been so curious about that tree we wouldn't be here asking these questions. Why weren't things good enough for you? Why did you have to want something more? Why did you ruin everything?" Adam accused.

I looked at him in shock. His words hurt, just as they had yesterday. I turned away from him. I wished I could be alone. My body hurt, my head hurt and I felt that my breathing would stop. I sank to a sitting position and rested my chin on my knees. Water still ran from by eyes and slid down my face. I lowered my face onto my knees to hide it.

"Why did I listen to you? Why couldn't you be happy? Why did God think I needed you at all? He and I were fine before you came." I heard all these things Adam said as if his voice were coming from far away. I could not bear his displeasure in me.

"Are you really sorry I am here?" I sobbed. "Do you want me to go away from you? I don't want to leave you and be by myself, but if you don't want me I'll go."

"Oh please," I thought, "don't make me go. What would I do without him?"

After endless moments Adam relented. He walked over to me and pulled me to my feet. "I'm sorry, Eve. I should never have said those things. I could never stand to have you go. I was so lonely before you came. I liked being with the Lord, but he is so wonderful and powerful that I never felt that I could please him. I know that he was pleased with me, but I never felt right that I was so simple and small compared to him. When you came you were like me. We had good times didn't we? I'm glad you are with me, no matter what happens to us."

He gently stroked my hair. As he talked we both became quiet. It was very comforting to be held this way.

"And I am sorry, Adam. I am really sorry. If I hadn't eaten the fruit and talked you into eating it too we could have stayed. Do you think if I told God how sorry I am for disobeying him he would let us stay?"

"You have tried that, haven't you?" Adam pointed out gently. "We can't get back in where he is."

He gestured toward the winged creatures. They were curiously quiet. It was as if our affairs were of no interest to them as long as we did not try to reenter the garden. We would never enter the garden again unless God himself allowed it.

I was calmer now and could ask the question again, "Adam, are we dead?"

We stood talking softly and observing the flaming sword and the guardians.

"I don't know, I don't know what 'dead' means, I just know that I am sad. Something has changed because of what we have done. And it is just as much my fault as yours."

"But it is really the fault of that serpent. After I ate the first bite of the fruit I looked at him and he had--I don't know how to say it--a strange expression on his face. I didn't know what it meant, but all of a sudden I had a funny feeling in my stomach. And then he left so quickly as if he just disappeared." A chill went up my back as I remembered.

"Well, I think all three of us were at fault. God said we were all guilty and he is always right. I just wish I understood. But even If I understood it won't change things." He looked into my face now as if he had decided some-thing.

"We can't stay here. We'll have to go," he announced. I'll take care of you, but you will have to do as I say."

"I will, I'll do what you say. You have been here longer than I have and know more than I do," I admitted.

I looked in the direction of the garden. I would miss it. It was so beautiful. The sun shone on it in all its friendly light. The colors were just as right and peaceful as they ever had been. The noises of rage had been quieted. Everything was still well in the garden, but we were outside it. And we would never see God again. Somehow that seemed the worst thing that had happened to us. I had wanted to be like him, and now I couldn't even see him anymore. I wondered if there were anything we could do to win back his approval. I would do anything.

Adam was gazing fondly at the garden also. I imagined that his thoughts were much the same as mine. I looked closely at his face. It had changed somehow since we had eaten the fruit. He did look more like the Lord. How could that be? Even though we had to die, perhaps we were more like God already.

Adam suddenly drew himself very straight and tall. He offered his hand to me. I took it.

"Let's go," he said.

We turned away from the creatures of many eyes and wings and the flaming, revolving sword set to keep us from our home.

We began the long walk into the unknown.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We left our home with my hand firmly held in Adam's. The first steps were the most frightening. There was no path and the vegetation grew thickly. I found myself looking back constantly, hoping beyond hope that the Lord would be there beckoning us back to him. But what I saw was the sight of those strange and beautiful creatures and the sword whirling. Each time I swiftly looked it seemed that the flames of the sword became brighter and the whirling faster. It was as if it could read my mind and was letting me know it. Adam was pulling me onward and sometimes I would almost stumble. He was going forward, not stopping to turn and look, not giving me time to stop. I felt that I was being dragged.

"Stop!' I pulled my hand away. I looked at Adam, begging with my eyes. "One last look!"

"All right," he conceded. "One last look. You know you are only making it harder for yourself."

"I can't help it."

Adam stood next to me with his arm around me. Even though the creatures and the sword had been placed there to keep us out of the garden, even they seemed to be like friends. They were a part of the place and belonged there.

"I'm ready now," I said in resignation.

"Good, we cannot look back anymore, Eve. Don't you know that?"

"I won't turn back again, but I will never forget."

"I don't think that we are meant to forget. Come." He gently turned me and took my hand firmly once more. "Come, Eve."

I appreciated the strength he had and which seemed to flow into me through our contact. But soon I was not allowed to have it, for we were soon scrambling down through a rough terrain. We were descending quickly. Far down and out stretched the unknown plain. It became necessary to have both hands free. Both Adam and I soon had dark blotches on our legs from the rocks and large scratches on the flesh which was not covered by the skin coats. We helped each other as best we could, but neither of us was accustomed to this. In the garden we had had much physical activity but now I could think of it as having been very pleasant.

We spoke very little. Who would think that so much energy could be taken to go somewhere that we didn't really want to go?

At last we reached a flat plain. Now we saw what we had seen from the garden, but this time from a new vantage point. The sun had already reached its highest point in the sky and was already beginning its journey downward.

We stopped. I took little steps closer to Adam. We were not looking down anymore. We were now looking outward on a vast area. Once we stepped out onto it we would be two little specks moving across it. All was quiet except for the breeze which moved across it gently swaying the trees which were dotted in clumps here and there. The trees here were different. They were not lush and green and full as the trees in the garden. To me they seemed neglected, twisted, and sparsely filled with leaves. The grass grew thinner and taller and was brown. The soil at our feet was sandy and dry. We could see no water. This at the moment was what bothered me the most. I was beginning to become desperate for a cool drink.

Far away there were low hills. I wondered what could be there. There was a shimmering light over the plain which was puzzling and disturbing.

"We must keep going and find a good place for the night. I don't know why, but I desire an enclosed place," explained Adam.

I stood quietly next to him. An eerie feeling of loneliness came to me.

I reached for Adam's hand. "I would like a protected place also. Something is wrong. We should be watchful."

"We have set something strange in motion. Or else God's power is not the same here." Adam lead the way again.

We trudged on for time and time and time. I couldn't even feel anything any more. I couldn't even think. All that was with me was an unknown fatigue and a vague uneasiness. I was also terribly thirsty. We still had seen no water.

Finally as the sun was red and slipping over the edge of the earth we came to a river. With joy and relief we ran to it and threw ourselves down to drink. We splashed water on our sore legs and arms and cooled our faces.

After we were refreshed we turned our faces away from the bank of the river and came to a place of high stones twice as tall as we were. We found a group of them and slumped down with our backs against them and with rocks on each side. It was the best security we could find.

"It is getting very cool. It is like plunging into the river," Adam pulled his coat as close as possible for warmth.

I also pulled my coat closer. This was another reason to be thankful for having it. As we sat close to the rock it radiated the heat that it had received during the day.

Darkness came almost at once.

We sat huddled close to each other and to the warm rock. We were exhausted. I all at once realized that we had not eaten all day.

A sudden animal cry heralded the alien quality of the night.

"What was that?" I jumped and felt my chest pounding. "I am too afraid to close my eyes. If I close my eyes will whatever that is come closer?"

"That is indeed a terrible thought. Maybe we should watch," Adam was tense.

We sat in great fear of the darkness and of the things in it that we could not see. The stone gradually cooled and became cool as the night.

"Adam?"

"Yes, Eve?"

"Would you tell me about the time before I was with you? I know you have told me before. I want to hear it again."

Adam began his story. It was comforting in the strange night, and sorrowful. I relaxed against Adam. I knew the garden would evermore be a story and a memory to me that I would love and for which I would always yearn.

Follow along in the scriptures (links to Center Place Library)

Inspired Version of the Bible
Genesis Chapter 3
Ezekiel Chapter 10
Revelation Chapter 4:6-9

forward to chapter 2

Copyright 1991 Lois M. Anderson: All Rights Reserved
Last revised: August 29, 2001