Looking back on beginnings

She stands, a modern day Eve in miniature, beneath the tree dripping with apples.  Surveying the starchy husks rustling like sandpaper on the ears of corn across the road.

{When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.}

It is her brother who reaches for the hanging fruit, body in motion and apples out of reach.  The Bible says we're living dust and we will return to dust some day not of our choosing: his full-of-life towhead already melts into the yellow of the dusty gravel road.

{By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.}

He proffers up his hard-won fruit, looking for approval.  Can I eat this, Mama?  Even though you said green apples make my tummy hurt?  One bite, and the rest is flung on the ground to be picked up as windfall for the animals.

{There is a way which seems right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.}

She is dusty and tired, lips drawn and dry, eyes the large and luminous life left in her face.  She has an apple, too, and the same question.  Is it worth the pain?  Her eyes search mine.

{Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.}

{...the Lord Almighty says, "Give careful thought to your ways."}

Her lips open wide for the juicy fruit, and teeth nip the ripe, hard peel.  The apple crunches and pops as she tastes.  She reaches the same conclusion as her brother, and the apple flies across green lawn to join the pile of windfalls under the tree.  A few moments later, her belly aching, too, she heads for the farmhouse, regretting her choice.  Curled up with arms clutching middle, she lies on the couch and scrunches eyes closed as the cramp there bathes her in pain.

{To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."}

The rest are gathered in skirts for horses.  The children plop them one by one, red and green alike.  The horses won't mind.

{All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.}

They tumble out of skirts onto the harsh rasp of the cement chute.  Horses clatter reluctantly from a shady shelter to have a nibble.  Children dance about and save their toes and fingers from the eager teeth.  The girl in the brown dress flits out to join siblings in the pasture next to the barn.  Pain is destroyed by distraction as she gathers apples her brother tosses recklessly down the sloping cement.  She holds his hand in hers and helps him gather apples into a pile in the sun.

{...speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.}

Fingers pulled back, palms flat: the apples are like tentative gifts as horses breathe warmth on wrists and lift lips to grasp the sweet orbs.  A few crunchy rolls of the jaws, and they're consumed.  A harvest of soon-to-be rotten fruit plucked from the moist ground and horses plod back to the shade to roiling bellies.

{My soul, too, was plucked from the moist ground where it lay dead.  The corruptible has passed to indestructible. The Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God's promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.}

Their toothless elder, old back bent by wisdom, gums his mash and nods a knowing head in the direction of his younger pasture mates.  His belly full...and theirs aching...they head back to whisper in whinnies and neighs while the long light of evening sends sun flaring over corn tops, yellow in the late summer wind.

{What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away...Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.}