A garden –
a funny-looking garden
of many small rooftops
and multiple plots of growing things.
As with children playing house,
in this garden, everyone has a home;
no one is designated as
“that person who sleeps in the street.”
It is good,
and nobody goes to bed hungry.
God shows up for dinner every evening,
and the children take turns pulling God by the hand
to their own small gardens,
exclaiming look how it has grown!
The trees are kept happy
from the compost the vegetables don’t need.
All of them, that is,
except for the one tree.
The one tree in the middle of the garden.
The one God said to leave alone
because of the curse that would eternally fight with the blessing
if the odd-looking branches
were ever disturbed.
when sleep won’t come,
Adam lies awake, wondering about the tree.
The one he can’t touch.
Why? What would happen?
Things are good,
but what blessing am I missing out on?
What is it that I do not know?
Then, one bright morning
as Adam skirts around the tree,
he hears it speak —
or so he thinks at first,
but the voice turns out to be coming from a snake.
A beautiful, multicolored snake,
draped over a crooked branch.
You, it whispers.
Why not find out?
A small investment of your time is all that is required.
A mere movement of the hand.
Put your thumb here,
on this unusual fruit,
and you will have at your fingertips
everything there is to know.
Great wealth and great leisure will certainly follow,
because, as I’m sure you are aware,
the one who knows,
casting a glance around his pleasant, busy community,
then reaches out his hand
and presses his thumb on the little circle.
The print is taken.
The hook embeds.
The fast-growing disease begins.
Adam, receiving the device into his outstretched hand,
brings it close.
As he bends his head towards its wonderment,
the color slowly drains from his surroundings.
Like a dimmer switch on all creation,
the brightness around him begins to fade,
the laughter of the children becomes subdued and faint,
bird song falls to a few dissonant notes,
feels no regret as he tips himself down the rabbit hole and begins to fall,
face to screen,
the disease has spread,
and God shows up for dinner to find
wilted people with heads bent over the strange, alluring fruit,
no food prepared,
no sharing taking place.
In the dim dusk, individuals are not gathered
but are separate, absorbed,
being inhumanly fed.
No one looks up,
and God waits in the falling light,
This goes on and on,
and the gardens do not grow,
the children do not play
the people do not thrive.
as God wanders among the statue-like people,
Once again, they take a potential good
and let the negative aspect of it run rampant,
choking out any positive result that might have blessed them.
Once again I have to save these people from themselves –
these people whom I love so much
but who wear me out.
the flood’s been done.
No time for subtlety –
this is it.
And bam! – it is done.
Handheld devices gone.
All at once, hundreds of people looking up from nothing,
eyes slowly focusing,
feeling coming back into the bent arms,
Over time, the community recovers.
Eventually, someone stumbles upon the vine-covered library
and individuals spend hours in there re-learning gardening,
Classes are held on face-to-face interaction,
and support is provided to those who have the most trouble
integrating back into the world God made for them.
By the toil of their bodies and the toil of their minds,
new growth is facilitated,
new relationships made,
and when God shows up for dinner at night,
the children take turns pulling God by the hand
to the odd-looking tree,
pointing with pride at their contribution
to the colorful fence of hand-made signs,
each one of which asks, in bold, crayoned print,
if the grown-ups would please
before picking this particular fruit.
(Idea credit to the Disciple 1 class at Christ United Methodist Church, Franklin, TN, 2017)