Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Man of Red Clay: A Novel of Adam" by Jonathan Hooper, Chapter 19

Chapter Nineteen

Adam, awake. It is day. Come with me. I am he who knows the circle of the earth, from the place of the rising sun to its baths in the west. I watched over you in Eden, and I grieved when you were cast out. I am Gabriel.

Cursed you were to receive these last portions of knowledge, long denied because of pity, and to receive them from accursed lips. Through your son, Lemekh, the successor of Cain, was affected the revenge of Satan, who put those words into his mouth, to make you, at the last, submit to despair; this final glimpse of fallen life too much for a man who had known the first state of things. Satan showed you true things, though in excess; he gave you knowledge of evil without knowledge of good: without balance, the consequence is despair.

These last portions of knowledge I bequeath you, before the memory of fallen life is taken away utterly, and replaced by God's love.

There is a kingdom to which you are going, wherein there are no pains of birth, work, or death; one rules there who paid the price of all transgressions like your own, the chain of sin leading from your first disobedience, through Cain, and henceforth to all your sons. He has the power of your maker; He holds the keys to sin and death.

Now know the future lot, beloved man of God. Know that your labours have not been in vain, your love for your sons not given in futility; nor has God condemned you eternally for your one transgression, grave though it was. You have given birth to an accursed generation, as Lucifer said; but there is much to come which is hidden even from the rebel angels.

There will be great men among your children: saints, blessed men such as Seth, men loved by God. Though the world will perish, first by flood, then by fire, do not despair. It is a mortal world. Man's spirit cannot perish, but will ascend to his maker, once the pain of mortal life is ended. One greater man will come, beloved of His father, to deliver the world. The love of God, mutual in return, which sustained you in Eden, a true paradise internal, will be freely given in this place.

Adam felt his body being lifted; strong arms enfolded him, and he left the ground easily; he was swiftly rising above the village, above the foothills, soaring, in body, towards Mount Horeb; until he was set down on one of its lower slopes. And then he saw the angel: it was Gabriel, immortal, regal, with eyes of white flame, his robe woven of some heavenly cloth brighter than gold, a fiery sword set at his side.

“There!” Gabriel said, pointing towards a grove of cypress trees near the place where they were standing. “Look on Michael, Raphael, Uriel, your erstwhile guardians, set to guard you once more. And do you see that other too?”

Adam saw the angels arrayed in a circle; they were standing in the grove of trees around a kneeling figure; Adam, in the light cast by the angels, could see that it was Lemekh. They were talking, though he could not hear what was being said. And then Lemekh seemed to collapse, and another form rose out of him, at first spirit in form, but spirit instantly becoming matter. The seraphim, at once, drew long, fiery swords, and as the dark shape rose up, one of the angels, Raphael, stooped and put a hand upon Lemekh's shoulder.

The shape changed form as it rose up into the sky; it became, for an instant as Adam looked, a swarm of locusts, and then, a winged snake. And finally, an angel itself, the splendid form of Sammael, who had given him the secret of fire, who had divulged the secrets of agriculture and the metals of the ground. For a second, it seemed as if it would come towards the place where Adam was standing, protected by Gabriel, but then it changed direction, and in doing so, form: the bright, angelic face darkened; the wings, once marble coloured, became diaphanous; and its face and body contorted into some monstrous, bestial form: a horned devil. Worst of all was the face: agony seemed to be impressed on the features, agony unimaginable, and deep, inhuman despair.

Satan, in all his diabolical majesty, flew down in fury towards the desert, and, like a falling star, disappeared somewhere in the boundless night.

“He was the angel who appeared to me in the desert!” Adam said. “He was the tempter.”

“It is his true form, now fallen,” Gabriel replied. “He has taken on the symmetry of darkness. Now come, there is a little further to go.”

Suddenly, they were rising again until, at last, Adam was put down on the slope again, higher this time, though still some distance from the top.

Together, they watched a wretched, thin figure, naked bar a loincloth, carrying a great burden on his back, in the form of a heavy beam of wood, ascending the rock, a bleak, savage place. The beam made him limp and stagger, but he climbed still, heaving it onwards. The man looked a little like Adam, though he was much younger.

“Who is he, Gabriel? How can he carry that thing up to the peak of Horeb without help? Why would he want to do such a thing? I don't understand.”

“This is not Horeb. It is another place, called Golgotha, in a future time of the world.”

“I thought you had brought me up to Horeb this last time before I died. Am I still sleeping?”

“This is a vision. It is something that will come to pass.”

“Who is this man?”

“One who loves His children dearly, sons of Seth and Cain alike.”

“Angel, you speak in riddles. What manner of future image is this? Is this me? Am I to be given this burden? Am I to carry this cross as a punishment?”

“It is not you. One greater than you will come. He will redeem the world, and pay for the transgressions of you and your children, so that Paradise will be regained. All your sons will taste mortal death, and be tainted with sin from birth; through this sacrifice, all will be redeemed.

“What was the paradise, Adam? The bowers of Eden? The ignorance of suffering?”

“No. It was being close to God, to feel Him in my presence, close to me, boundless in love.

“Then this future paradise will be greater still. Look on His face.”

Adam looked at the face contorted with mortal pain, and though he saw, at first, a man, then at last he understood. Joy filled him, obliterating the knowledge of suffering and death, casting evil away to a place outside of memory.

With this, Adam smiled and gave up the ghost.

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