The darkness had long since closed in. The night wrapped its thick blanket around the house. And if a traveler should happen to walk by, he would notice that the inside of the house was as dark as the night itself.
In a room upstairs, underneath the fluffy, warm covers, she lay sleeping. And dreaming. She dreamed of a green, leafy garden. A waterfall splashing and singing by a clear water pool. Warm sun, easy shade. Trees loaded with apples and grapes and pears and bananas. A cool breeze blowing. And a man.
The man of her dreams. Together, they'd run through the garden, laughing and singing, playing hide-and-go-seek like a couple of kids. They'd climb the trees and eat the fruit. They'd swim in the clear water of the pool and splash by the waterfall. They'd rest in the warm sun and the cool breeze.
She remembers that one particular day when the two of them sat down beside a pool, for a picnic of sorts. They stretched out, relaxed, and took that one bite….
But, then, the sky covered itself with thick clouds. The trees began to shake and drop their leaves. The cool breeze turned into a roaring hurricane. It sounded like a voice shouting at them, warning them, chilling them.
But, then, she woke up. A night breeze had blown the window wide open, tearing the covers away from her. She jumped out of the bed with a fright and ran to the window and slammed it shut tight. And stood there thinking. Yeah, that dream again. That same dream she'd dreamed so many nights before, stretching all the way back to the night when the dream wasn't a dream at all, when it was real: the green garden and the cool breeze and the man. She looked at the clock-four in the morning-and climbed back into bed and snuggled again beneath the covers.
She turned to the man who lay sleeping beside her. "Adam!" she called out. "Adam!" "Huh?" the man answered, then buried his head deeper into the pillow and drifted back off to sleep. Four in the morning and she lay wide awake. It always happened this way, when she dreamed that dream of those days in the beautiful garden. She slid from beneath the covers and climbed out of the bed and slipped into her robe, thinking she'd go downstairs and fix herself something warm to drink.
As she walked toward the stairs, she passed three empty bedrooms, where their three sons once stayed. Three sons, now gone. One son had died a cruel, senseless death. Another now wandered the earth, carrying the guilt from that death. And the third son had long since left home to start a family of his own, whose own sons and daughters had long since left home.
She slowly stepped down the stairs and into the kitchen and fixed her warm drink, then sat down and sipped. And thought about her dream, the green garden, the cool breeze. She thought about herself and about the man who lay sleeping upstairs-the young man of her dreams who had now become the old man of her reality.
Once, they had all they ever needed. Enough food, enough drink, enough work, enough rest, enough friendship, enough companionship, enough love. Peace of mind. They had each other.
But they wanted more.
Once, they had all they could ever have wanted. Beautiful sights, sweet smells, pleasing sounds, delicious tastes, a comforting touch. They could run when they felt like running, sleep when they felt like sleeping, eat when they felt like eating.
But they wanted more.
Once, they had a God above them, a God who loved them, who protected them, who cared for them. A God who gave them the freedom of the garden, who let them make up their own minds, who gave them just a few rules to keep them out of trouble.
But they wanted more.
They didn't just want the beautiful garden to live in and enough food to eat. They wanted to own the garden. More.
They didn't want just the sights and sounds and smells and touches of the garden-they wanted to control the garden. More.
They didn't want a God above them, a God who loved them. They wanted to become like that God. To do whatever they wanted, to make their own rules-to eat from that one tree. More.
That word beat in their minds like a big bass drum. More. That word became their obsession. More. That word became their only thought and their only desire. More.
Until. . . until it all went crash and they lost everything. Everything. They lost the garden. They lost the cool breeze and in some ways, they lost each other and themselves.
They wanted more. They reached for more. They grabbed more. And ended up with nothing.
She sipped at her drink and thought about the day they left the garden. She thought about the man sleeping upstairs and what he had done and what he had said. How the man blamed her for the whole mess. "This Woman," he said, "who you gave me." Why the nerve of that man. The gall of that man. Blaming her for his own foul-up. Wasn't he man enough to take his own responsibility? Wasn't he man enough to take his own share of the blame without pitching it off onto here? At that moment she felt like screaming at the man, "Why, you…."
But she stopped. Because she knew that she wanted him to take the whole blame, the whole responsibility. And that's how they would live the rest of their lives outside of the garden, always wanting more, always blaming each other for wanting more.
She took another sip from her drink and thought about their three sons. Yeah, they had all learned well from Ma and Pa. They had all learned well how to always grab for more. They had learned well how to shove the blame off on somebody else. Anybody else.
Abel, the beautiful child, the golden boy, who wanted everything and somehow managed to get everything he wanted. Abel, who never seemed to make one mistake, except one. When one day he went for a walk with his brother. His first mistake. His last mistake.
Cain, the ugly child, the outcast, who wanted everything his brother had and blamed his brother when he didn't get it. Cain, who blamed his brother to the point that he knew that if he could just get rid of his brother, it would all be his. Then spent the rest of his life wandering the earth, carrying the load of that guilt for murdering his brother. Knowing that he could unload that terrible guilt only if someone would do to him as he had done to his brother. But no one ever would.
Yeah, she and Adam had taught them well about blaming and wanting more. They could see it in their third son, Seth, and his children. And their children and their children and their children. Generation after generation, they would always want more. And when they got more, they would want still more and still more. They would steal from each other because they wanted more. They would kill each other because they wanted more. They would fight wars, nation against nation, because they wanted more.
And if it didn't work out, they could always find someone to blame. Blame the government. Blame the church. Blame the school. Blame the bureaucrats. Blame the TV set. Blame their families, their next-door neighbors, their bosses, their enemies, their dog.
Yeah, she and Adam had taught them well. And they would go on learning well. Parents taught children, who taught their children. Even when they tried not to teach their children, it almost seemed like some kind of disease, a sickness passed from one generation to the next. But when would it every stop? She saw no hope. No hope at all for her children.
She finished her drink. And set down her cup and yawned. Now she could get back to sleep once again. And dream about that beautiful garden and the cool breeze once again. A dream that would always stay just a dream, never a reality, like it was so long ago. She dozed off to sleep.
But this time, but this time, she dreamed a different dream, a new dream, a strange dream. This time she dreamed not of a beautiful green garden, but of a rough, rocky hill. She dreamed not of splashing water and singing birds, but of a crowd shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" She dreamed, not of a man running through the forest and swimming in the pool and climbing the trees, but of a man hanging from a cross.
One of her own children hanging from a cross. In her dream, she looked at her son and realized just how far they had come from those peaceful days in the garden. She looked at his hands and his feet and saw those spikes ripping through his flesh. She looked at his face and at the pain, the anguish, and the blood gushing from his head and flooding his eyes. How could anyone ever want to do this? How could anyone have possibly done this to her son? She wanted to scream out, "Why?"
But then she stopped. And realized who had done this to her son. She had. Adam had. Abel and Cain and Seth had. Their grandchildren had. The people of 2006 had. The people of America and Iraq and Afghanistan had done this to her son.
Because on that cross hung a man who, instead of saying, "More," said, "Enough." On that cross hung a man who, instead of blaming everyone else, finally said, "I'll take the blame."
And, maybe, just maybe, this dying man would take away that sickness, would wipe out that disease that her children pass from one generation to the next. Maybe this dying man could help them unlearn all that they had learned. A man who would one day take her and all of her children by the hand and lead them back. Back to that green garden, back to that cool breeze. Back to the beautiful garden of Eve's dream. Amen.