Scripture Aesthetics: The Garden

The value of the myth is that it takes all the things we know and restores to them the rich significance which has been hidden by ‘the veil of familiarity’. The child enjoys his cold meat (otherwise dull to him) by pretending it is buffalo, just killed with his own bow and arrow. And the child is wise. The real meat comes back to him more savoury for having been dipped in a story; you might say that only then is it the real meat. If you are tired of the real landscape, look at it in a mirror. By putting bread, gold, horse, apple, or the very roads into a myth, we do not retreat from reality: we rediscover it. As long as the story lingers in our mind, the real things are more themselves.

(C.S. Lewis, ‘On Stories’)

Believers are people of the Book, filled with the breath of the Living Word. We’re fairytales on legs, you and I. And, like the child’s previously dull meat, we are “more savoury” and “more ourselves” for having been dipped in a story. Genesis 1, 2, and 3 are among the most epic passages of the Bible, packed with the stuff of legend and running the Truest Story underneath. Smack dab in the middle of them, we find a garden where the destiny of mankind hangs in the balance of one ripe fruit.

Adam: clay-colored dust, making up words to love songs, the feel of moss under bare feet, dappled sunlight, kisses, the scent of new worlds, building a tree house, late night conversations with a best friend, freckled shoulders, golden seed cake dripping with honey, thunderstorms, an evening chorus of crickets and frogs, hands working the earth, threaded fig leaves, a loaf of fresh-baked bread

Eve: love at first sight, long walks in the woods at twilight, a bubbling brook, games of hide-and-seek, laughing easily, your best hair day, the seductive packaging of a poisoned apple, beauty and freedom and unbridled joy, flower crowns, playing house outside, bottled tears, warm wind against skin, a profound sense of wonder, the curl of an unfurled fern, missing the punchline, a curse and a promise

The serpent: slightly singed feathers, a sneak thief in the night, silvery scales, the sensation of feeling watched, sun-ripened blackberries, a fireplace filled with embers, smirks, tales of dragons, the love of creating drama, long dark cloaks, a golden box of emeralds and rubies, deep shadows, spine-tingling horror stories, silent fury, the cold glimmer of cunning in the eyes, strong coffee, disguises, a steel blade smeared with blood

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