The Bad Angel Messes it Up

The next morning, Adam and the woman went for a breakfast walk. The woman was carrying a basket with some freshly mashed lima beans. She wanted to visit the baby lions.

The morning was leisurely, and they stopped by some huckleberry bushes and tasted the berries, but they weren’t ripe yet. They picked some strawberries and two bananas. They weren’t hungry, but they enjoyed the feel of food in their mouths, and the feel of the early morning air blowing through this special garden.

They neared the center of the garden and had just turned toward the good lion’s den, when they heard a soft chuckle coming from a tree near the path.

“It’s the forbidden tree,” Adam said.

“And it’s you, ol snake,” The woman laughed. She caught sight of him crawling out a branch. “What are you doing in that tree?”

“What are you doing with those mashed lima beans, dear woman?” the snake answered. “Here you are, the whole garden nearly bursting with food, and you carrying your lunch of lima beans.” He smiled.

“It’s for the little lions. You know as well as I they like nothing better,” the woman replied. “Going to visit the little beasties, and I brought them some brunch.”

“You had breakfast already then?” asked the snake.

“We’ve been tasting every tree and most of the berry bushes. Plum full of fruit this garden is,” she tossed her banana peel up toward the snake. “What a God to fill this place with food and only a few of us to eat it!”

“Has God said you can eat of all of the fruit of this garden?” the snake asked.

“Not a thing here to make us sick,” the woman answered. “All the fruit except that very tree you’re climbing in. If we so much as touch it, we will die.”

The snake squirmed on his branch. He looked long at the woman. His put a foot out and nudged a ripe fruit with his toe. The woman gasped. “You shall not die,” the snake said. “See I just touched one. I’m wondering if there is something God doesn’t want you to know. What is this tree called?”

“It’s the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

“That’s just it,” the snake cut in. “When you eat of this tree you will know things. Good and Evil. These are things God knows. Here, try one.” He picked a fruit off and tossed it down to her, but Adam rushed in and grabbed his wife’s arms before she could catch it.

“Don’t.”

The fruit landed with a plop at their feet. “Don’t touch it,” Adam warned. But immediately a strange smell filled the air. It smelled like apples with cinnamon, only quite a bit sweeter and quite a bit more strange.

The woman hunkered over the fallen fruit. It had split in half and the flesh inside was white and very soft. “It looks good to eat,” she whispered. “And very beautiful.” She was surprised and excited and felt like she could not turn away. Adam knelt beside her. Almost without thinking, the woman poked a finger into the fruit and scooped some into her mouth. That taste of it made her groan. She grabbed the piece she had poked and took a bite, rolling her eyes back with the new sensation. “Have some, my dear.” she kissed Adam and handed him the other half.

Adam sniffed it. He looked at the woman. He felt a little bit lonely again. He took a bite. The first bite was very sweet. He hadn’t been hungry at all, but somehow eating it made him want more. He stuffed the rest of the fruit into his mouth. It wasn’t quite as sweet, but still delicious. He looked toward the tree. Suddenly his stomach felt full and heavy and different than it ever had before. He was afraid. The tree seemed full of eyes. He wasn’t safe. He looked at the woman.

The woman looked at him. “You’re….” she paused, puzzled.

“You’re naked,” they said it together. Adam took three steps backward. They crouched and quickly crawled into some bushes on the other side of the path. Adam was trembling. He felt cold and alone. The woman began to cry. Adam peered thought the branches. Her eyes were full of tears. Usually these tears came from happiness, but this time was new and different and not nearly the same. Adam did not like it at all. He wished she would stop.

The woman covered her face in her hands. Shame filled her. She cried louder. She wailed and the sound filled the garden. Huddled beneath the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Snake heard her. And he was smiling no more.

The Tricky Snake

But the bad angel was not happy. Satan was scowling. He hated that God was so good and could make things as good as the beautiful country. He had forgotten that long ago when God had made him, that he had been beautiful also. He couldn’t even remember what good felt like anymore. Back when God made the angel who became the bad angel, God had given him the power to choose and to create. In this way God had actually put a little bit of Himself into him. But the bad angel had taken that little bit of God’s own self and had chosen to make himself, the bad angel, full of badness. He hated goodness and happiness, he hated beauty, he even hated God.

The bad angel had been watching God create the beautiful country. Everything about it was disgusting to him. He especially didn’t like that there was no shame. But one thing puzzled him about the beautiful garden. He could not understand why God put one tree in the garden that Adam and the woman were not allowed to eat of. Adam and the woman didn’t think very much about this tree. There were lots of good trees to think about. But the bad angel thought only about the tree that was forbidden.

Except sometimes he also puzzled over Adam and the woman. Why had God given them the ability to choose? Why hadn’t God made them just like the bees and the buffalo? All of creation could do nothing but praise God. All of creation except Adam and the woman. They alone could choose to disobey God and eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The bad angel wondered if they would. He thought about this very much. Adam and the woman thought about it not at all.

Until one day, the bad angel asked them to think about it.

The bad angel wanted to trick Adam and the woman. It wasn’t so much that he didn’t like them, it was more because he didn’t like God; and he thought that if he could trick Adam and the woman into disobeying God, that then God would be very sad because the beautiful creation would be ruined.

The bad angel knew he would have to be very sneaky. And he also knew that he himself was so full of badness that if he tried to trick Adam and the woman, they would probably see right away that it was a trick. The trickiest things aren’t usually the baddest things.

So the bad angel talked to a snake. It is very hard to tell when a snake is smiling. It is also very hard to tell why a snake is smiling. The bad angel found the trickiest most smiley snake of all. “I have a job for you,” he said.

The snake smiled, “What is a job?” he asked.

“I am going to be very busy tomorrow,” the bad angel said, “I need someone to ask some questions for me.”

“What kind of questions?” the snake asked.

“Questions about God,” the bad angel said, “I want to see how much Adam and the woman know about Him.”

“Don’t they know enough?” asked the snake.

“Go tomorrow morning to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. When the woman comes close by, lean down and ask her if God has told her to eat of all of the fruit of the garden. See if she knows,” the bad angel sniffed.

“Knows what?” the snake was not sure about the bad angel’s ideas. He turned and looked out across the beautiful garden.

“Her eyes see only part of what they look upon,” the bad angel squinted. “She has tasted of all the trees of the Garden. She has tasted of all the things God calls good,” he spat toward the snake. The snake turned back toward the bad angel who was speaking quietly now. “She knows nothing about evil, about me, about all the other things God knows. And the moment she takes one bite of the fruit from that Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, she will know it all, just like….just like God.” He had meant to say, “just like me,” but right when he tried, he remembered that there were things that he had forgotten. He decided he had better not lie to this tricky snake, at least not yet.

The tricky snake looked like he was smiling. But really he was thinking about Adam and the woman. They had been kind to him. Many times he had played fun tricks on them and they always scratched his nose or tickled his feet afterwards until he rolled on his belly with laughter. This sounded like a different kind of trick. He tried to frown. But the tricky snake liked jokes very much, and he didn’t think about it for very long. He winked at the bad angel and ran away to his home.

The Special Garden

In the middle of this beautiful country God planted a special garden with all kinds of trees and flowers, and he asked Adam and the woman to take care of it. There was always lots to eat. Apples grew round and golden on the trees and there were lots of blueberry bushes. Also all the animals in this country were tame. Adam could scratch the necks of the big lions. Sometimes beautiful birds would land on the woman’s shoulders and she would carry them through the garden and talk to them. Pheasants would eat from the woman’s hand. Bees buzzed in the flowers, but none of them had stingers. Snakes played in the branches of the trees, but none of them had sharp teeth.

The special garden was prettier than the prettiest place you have ever seen. The blueberries there grew bigger than any blueberries you have ever eaten. It was safer than the safest place you have ever been. This country was safer than you are when you are in your own bed in your own house when your covers are pulled up around your neck and your father puts his big hand on your head and prays for you. This country was safer even than that. In fact, it was so safe that Adam and the woman didn’t even wear any clothes. They didn’t worry about being naked any more than your little brother worries about it. Shame is one thing that did not exist in the place God made.

God liked to come to the beautiful country and talk to Adam and the woman when the trees made long shadows in the grass and the air blew cool in the evenings. He would ask them how the baby lions were doing, and if they had tasted the first ripe pomegranates yet. Adam and the woman like this time too. They were so glad that God had made them and had given them a beautiful country to call their own. They loved God because He was so wise and kind and holy, and because they were not ashamed and were so happy.

God made a few rules for the special garden. He commanded Adam and the woman to take care of the plants and animals. He told them they could eat of all of the trees in the garden except one tree. That tree was in the middle of the garden and it was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and the woman didn’t mind the rules at all. They knew that God had created them and that He had created this beautiful country. They thought He would know best. Have you ever made something like a paper windmill that had to be held just right in order for it to work? You made it, so you also knew what rules were best for it. Adam and the woman knew that since God had created them, He would know what rules would make them the happiest. This is how God’s rules are.

Adam and the woman liked to care for the plants and animals because even the plants were friendly. There were no thistles, and no thorns on the raspberries; and even if Adam carried water for the woman’s cooking in the hot sun of the afternoon, the air felt as cool as early morning to him and he didn’t ever sweat. There was lots of fruit on all the trees of the garden. Adam and the woman never got tired of the tastes of them. They knew they had no need of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The fruits from the Tree of Happiness and from the Tree of Cool Sweetness and from all the other trees pleased them very much.

Sometimes when I finish hoeing the corn or making candles, I look at my work and it makes me very happy. God looked at His beautiful country with its beautiful garden and He smiled. He looked at Adam and the woman and saw how happy they were, and He smiled again. There was nothing missing in the beautiful country. There was nothing to be ashamed of.