by A Lump Of Clay
2010 was barely into its second month, when a close friend suddenly took ill – strangely ill. She had hysterics, suffered amnesia, spoke different languages to different people at different times, developed hair loss and threw tantrums that nearly gave her father a heart-attack. She even changed her looks – from golden brown to shiny white!
And she stopped talking to me! Now that’s odd! Why would anyone not want to talk to ME? Hmm! This must be something really serious. It seems she had eaten a fruit from The Garden, so she said. Impossible, I thought. My family had been to The Garden just a couple of months earlier and we were all alright. Must be some New-Age fast food that her colleagues may have shared with her. Anyway I decided to check out The Garden.
Have I mentioned about The Garden? Fuyoh! A very special Garden this one. I must tell you about it before it slips my mind. A really wonderful Garden. A picturesque Garden like no other I’ve seen.
Just like the
What’s so special about The Garden? It’s beautifully maintained, with a river quietly running through the middle of it, and cows happily grazing nearby. There are nine Trees in The Garden, each unique in its shape, color, size, flower, fruit..... There is even one whose branches climb upwards as if perpetually praising its Creator! The fruit of each Tree looks and tastes different from the other Trees - but ALL simply mouth-watering deeee-li-cious. And right in the middle of The Garden, by the river bank, towering above the other nine trees stands a Great Grand Tree, like a royal Tree presiding over the nine Trees, with rays of colored light shining through – 1, 2, 3, 4 ….. 23 colors! Complementing the great variety of birds and butterflies that flit by. Such a lovely sight, this Garden. A masterpiece of the Good Gardener.
Just like the
I first came to know about The Garden when my aunty told me about a very special Flower growing in it. I went there, took one look at that Flower and decided to take it home. I have told many friends about The Garden and often boast about its beauty to those whose gardens were unkempt, with broken branches and which had rotten fruits. So proud I am about this beautiful Garden. So many of my holidays, my family and I pass by The Garden, laze under the Great Grand Tree and leisurely enjoy the taste of nine different Fruits, admiring the Good Gardner in his gardening hat as he quietly moves about, watering and pruning.
So, no way a fruit from The Garden could be so damaging to my friend. Curious, I decided to check out The Garden. When I approached The Garden, I was surprised to see it was now fenced up and the gate was closed. A signboard was hanging on the closed gate.
“KEEP OUT. PRIVATE PROPERTY.”
Seeing no one around, I pushed the gate open and walked along the sandy path, observing the nine Trees. One of the Trees, the one whose branches were reaching for the sky, was full of fruit which looked just as delicious as before. I went closer and was taken aback by an unusual smell of its fruits. In fact they had the characteristic smell of …..arsenic. Arsenic! How on earth…..? Something that looked like an old car registration plate was tacked to its trunk and I could barely make out, “GAL 5 20..” or something. I couldn’t get closer as there were thorny creepers all around the base of its trunk. I was stunned! Only recently my family and I had such a wonderful time here, and even enjoyed this particular fruit and now this? I looked around for the Good Gardener but he was nowhere to be seen. Shaking my head in unbelief at the thorny creepers, I sadly drove back home.
6 months on, as my friend slowly recovered (now she says 'Hi" and "Bye" to me), I still couldn’t help wondering about The Garden and that Tree with the “arsenic” fruits. Something was just not right. So taking my unsuspecting family along, I paid The Garden another visit, hoping against hope, that The Good Gardener would have tended to the Tree. As we walked up to the gate, my heart sank. The beautiful Garden I knew and enjoyed for the past 17 years, was unkempt, and overgrown with lalang. Broken branches were everywhere, making it difficult to walk. The Tree with the poisonous fruit was still there, branches waving in the sky. It was now the tallest Tree in The Garden, complete with plenty of good-to-eat looking fruits. But the thorny creepers had climbed all over it now and were spreading to some of the other Trees as well. The smell of arsenic was strong in the air, much stronger than before. But where is the Great Grand Tree? Hearts beating a desperate rhythm, we anxiously made our way towards the middle of the Garden. My heart broke at what I saw. The Great Grand Tree, which had once stood majestically over all the nine Trees, was now wispy and bent almost to the ground, its once-leafy branches now bare and broken, no more majestic than a common bush. No sign of the river either, only an algae-covered puddle. And there were no colored rays of light shining through – just cold, damp shadows. How could this happen to a once pristine Garden? There were tears in my children’s eyes when they saw The Garden that they have enjoyed for a lifetime, even until last Christmas, now unkempt, and unwelcoming.
“Why Papa? How did this happen?” they asked.
“Looks like they don’t want the Good Gardener anymore. So, remember the thorns? Not only have they poisoned the fruits of the Tree, but see, the dangerous fruits have also polluted the river. Now the whole beauty of The Garden has been destroyed,” I tried to explain.
“But how did the creeper get into The Garden, Papa?”
“Well, when a garden doesn’t have a Good Gardener………..”
That’s when I suddenly heard the familiar cackle. I swung around and there in the distance, I saw the Thing-with-the-tail, in a gardening hat similar to the Good Gardener’s. It was leaning against the Tree with the poisonous fruits, fanning itself with the old number plate. That explains a lot of things, I thought to myself. I started to go to it to find out what was going on. But there was a clap of thunder and it started to drizzle, so I grabbed my children close to me and quickly made our way out of The Garden.
“Every garden needs The Good Gardener. Only The Good Gardener can keep a garden beautiful and fruitful and keep the weeds and creepers out. Who knows? Maybe someone didn’t want The Good Gardener anymore because they were happy just to enjoy the fruits?” I whispered to my children, hoping they won’t notice the tremor in my voice.
Giving the Garden one last look, we started on the long, rainy 2-hour journey home, hearts heavy with memories of the once-beautiful Garden.
No more like the
Back home, I urgently started clearing up my own garden. I checked the fences, replaced the old lock for the main gate and took it upon myself to personally check all fruits brought into the house. I called my children together and issued strict instructions not to eat any fruit that has not been okay-ed by their father and their mother. I may not be able to enjoy The Garden anymore, but as for me and my house, we will certainly strive to avoid poisonous fruits, no matter how good-looking.
In case you happen to pass by The Garden, do take a closer look, but WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREEEE…..!!
The advice we give to others is often an advertisement of what dwells within us. GOOD intentions give birth to GOOD advice which builds relationships and brings glory to our Creator. EVIL intentions give birth to BAD advice that results in destroyed relationships, bringing shame to our Creator. That’s the lesson from the incident in the Garden of Eden.
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Gardening Tip: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature he will reap destruction. The one who sows to please The Spirit, from The Spirit will reap eternal life.” The Holy Bible - Galations 6:7-8
“The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit, will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” The Holy Bible – John 3:10