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In that day, the serpent possessed the keenest sight of all the living things. And once while he lay waiting in the top limbs of a tree, the serpent saw the Man, and said to him:


Adam, you are a faithful servant to your God, tell me: what did He say to you, and to the Woman, about the fruit of the Garden’s trees ?”


Without a pause Adam answered, “God told us not to eat the fruit from the center tree. In its flesh it holds a secret knowledge that God did not intend for us—if we eat the fruit of that tree, we will die.”


The serpent eased its way around the top limbs of the tree; in its path it left the leaves shredded by its tail.

"That is what He told the two of you. But He sends me to you now, not as the angel that I am, but as a serpent. And He sends me with a message meant for only you to hear. I see the Woman there beside the stream, but she has not seen me and hasn't heard a word of what we've said."


Adam turned and saw the Woman kneeling before the stream; truly, her eye had never left the water’s flow.


“God sent me on this day to tell you what He desires of you”, the angel said. “Your life as well as hers, and every life thereafter will be suffering without end and without purpose—unless you eat the fruit from the center tree. God wishes you to offer it to Eve as a symbol of your love. And see to it she eats before you do.”


Adam trembled, and opened his mouth to speak. The angel smiled and continued gently on.


“God made Man for many things, and in part you were made to be the caretaker of His Garden; in His wisdom, God limited the purpose of the Woman to caretaker of the Man. He made her heart to flow like the stream she kneels before, but in the order of creation her place is not as great to God as yours. And her heart was only made to flow in one direction.”


“But see, she kneels before the stream watching as the water rises one way and tumbles in another. Because she does not know her purpose in the Garden, in every toss of every wave she sees possibilities that are impossible for her. It would be better if she were spared this sight, or her heart may become forever small and angry that she cannot have what in His wisdom, God reserved for you. Offer her the fruit, and once she sees you sacrificed the secret knowledge out of love for her, she will be drawn like water to your side.”


Something bold as when the colors of the leaves ignite the sky stirred in Adam’s heart. But ever mindful he was a servant to his God, he asked the serpent-angel:


“God gave us eyes and ears that see and hear the same. Our hands take in equal measure, and we are satisfied with what we take. Why not bring her to the tree, and share what I have learned about its fruit, and let her eat or not as she sees fit ?”


“You believe because you seem the same, you are the same?”, the angel hissed. “The One who created you, who made the Garden and entrusts its care to you—did He not create you before the Woman? Surely you, whom He created first, He thought more of.”


His heart surged, full as any stream, but something about the serpent’s message still troubled Adam : “If I am first in God’s favor, then Eve has no advantage over me. What is lost if she should make her choice to eat as I make mine ?”


Uncoiling and descending from the top limbs of the tree, the serpent-angel said :


“God began the world with darkness, and favored everything He created after accordingly. What grows largest and rises highest is favored with His light, and has a higher purpose than what is left upon the ground.”


“The mountain rises high above the Garden. It is solid, and only imperceptibly it moves. The river runs, turns, and turns again, not knowing where it’s meant to run or where it's meant to turn. It only finds its stillness as it approaches the foot of mountains.”


“Because He is without limit, God gave order to the world and what is closest to His heart and to Himself is of a higher order. To that which He loves most, He gives possibilities of vision and of purpose and limits the purpose and the vision of those He favors less.”


“He gave you the possibility to see what only mountains see. As the water flows it hugs the river bed because it has no stillness of its own. Being of a lower order in creation, the rivers are consumed by what they cannot have and soon they flood their banks in anger and in spite—but there is yet a way for the waters to be stilled.”


Ripe fruit fell and split and stained the ground; sliding on its belly until it reached the center of the tree, now eye-to-eye with Adam, the angel said:


“For giving you His Garden and the Woman, in return, God asks only this of you. Go to where she kneels and gazes at the stream; tell her God sent His angel to you, saying it is safe to eat the fruit you were forbidden once to eat. The fruit of the center tree holds a tainted knowledge in its skin. Its flesh is nourishment for one but poison to another.”


Frightened by the angel’s words, Adam cried, “But He brought Eve here and said that I should care for her…”


Then, as if singing to a child, the serpent said these words:


“If she believes you sacrificed for her what would have made you almost greater than your God, no harm will come to Eve. But should she take it upon herself to eat the fruit and see that she is favored less, even her deepest love will be as shallow as any river’s edge.”


“Offer her the fruit, and as she eats you will see her sight is reconciled with yours. Once her heart can flow in single purpose she will be everything He intended her to be. God created you and blessed you with the Woman and the Garden. Your gift to God is seeing that the Woman finds her place in the order of His creation. Truly, can you call yourself His servant and say you love Him best, so long as you have failed to do the only thing He asks of you ?”


A dry wind rose, crackling fevered pieces of parched leaves on the ground. The serpent-angel smiled, seeing now the Man was not afraid.


Certain God had favored him, Adam knelt in prayer, and as he sang his praises to the Lord, a fly came to rest itself upon his folded hands; its wings were veined as leaves, laced in signatures of gold.


And seeing now that Eve no longer knelt before the stream Adam shook it from his hand, eager to begin what he believed God meant for him to do.

 

***

He saw her in the center of the Garden looking towards the top limbs of the tree. Its fruit was nourishment to one and poison to another, and truly, Eve had been afraid.


But in that day, the serpent possessed the keenest ear of all, and heard all things on earth and more below. And when he heard the Woman’s cry he told her, as if singing to a child, those which God made last He thought longest on—surely that which He thought longest on, He thought more of.


Now certain of her place in the order of creation, when Adam called her name Eve turned to him and smiled; in her open hand there were broken bits of fruit, with flesh in every color of the dawn.

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