Saturday, March 24, 2012

"Man of Red Clay: A Novel of Adam" by Jonathan Hooper, Chapter 4

Chapter Four

How swiftly the days go by, Seth. Come, sit beneath the carob tree and keep me company. Spring will soon turn to summer, and the plants will pass their last days of idleness before the winter cold. Nature is a deceiver: it would have us believe there is no power greater than itself. But there are powers in the air all around us. I saw them once, before my eyes were blinded by clay. That was in the days when we sowed this land in tears, long before our first son was born.

Nature, since the fall, has been corrupted and impure, a thing to despise. It has the hunger of the locust, a hunger that is never sated, consuming itself without respite. It covers all created things with a numbing clay, blinding them to their own destruction. And its greatest hunger is left for the spirit, turning the body against it, the spirit that would be strong no matter how many seasons have passed. It is plague upon our kind; call it a devil if you will. It is less than human, yet you would give it a human face. But why should you understand in any case? Can you see the Jordan, wide and gleaming, there below us? It has nothing that can soothe my body's pain.

“Father, you speak always of the spirit. Why is it that every day you ask me to bring you outside to look on the valley? If it cannot soothe you, why do you ask to be brought here?”

I am remembering. Sometimes, the fallen world contains a faint glimmer of the unfallen. Remembering the Garden, when we were close to God, I forget that everything around us is fated to die. Without this, the burden is heavy. What else should I feel for nature but hatred? It was not always so. In Eden, we did not have to sow or reap, and there was no end to the spring. Winter never came, we did not feel the blast of cold winds; nor did the leaves fall from the trees. Death did not exist, neither in nature nor in us. That is why I despise nature as it is.

“Nature is all I know. I have not seen God. Often I have sown in tears, but sometimes nature blesses me in the harvest. I expect nothing more. Do not tell me, father, that you feel nothing for your children. The world belongs to us now. If you will not grieve at leaving the world of nature, what of the sons and your daughters you leave behind? Doesn't it comfort you to know that we have inherited this land? That everything you have built here will not be lost?”

Seth, you test me. It was my curse to know the world unfallen. Forgive this old heart, that has outlived its time. I wonder, what will happen to my spirit after my body has given up the fight? Will it too pass away?

But now I remember. I told you of the first days of our expulsion. Now let me tell you about our first dwelling place in this land, and the trials we faced, when our wandering in the wilderness was over. Even though we found a place of habitation, life was little more stable than before. Nature was our enemy then, and the powers of the air were allied with it.

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