I was kneeling in the grass, hundreds of feet below sea level, in the Garden of Eden and talking to God like he was my pal. I’ve been in a lot of weird situations in my life, but this one took the cake.
“Yes. Yeshua, Jesus, the Son of God, I Am that I Am, however you want to refer to me. When you are part of an infinite God, you can’t really define exactly what you are in a way you’d understand.”
“Why are you here? More to the point, why am I here?”
“Come, let’s walk for a bit,” he said. I wasn’t about to tell God no, so I walked beside him. “I think it would be best if we had some of this conversation with your wife present. The last time I gave directions in the Garden, they didn’t get passed along as I originally stated and that caused a bit of trouble.”
“Original? Like Adam and Eve?”
“Yes. Eve got a bum rap in the Genesis story, easier to blame the woman for the fall of Mankind than to accept that each had a part in the blame. You are familiar with the story?” I nodded, I had studied it Genesis intensively after the first dive. “Who got told about the two trees in the Garden and what they could eat, Adam or Eve?”
I thought about it. “Adam, in Genesis 2:16.”
“Yes. Eve wasn’t formed until Genesis 2:22. It was his job to tell her the rules, not to confuse them or add to them. She was his help-meet and his responsibility. Adam didn’t make sure she understood the importance of the rule, and that allowed the serpent to cast doubt. He also ignored my command when she gave the fruit to him, and he ate it. If they had come to me and asked, if they would have trusted me, it would all have been avoided. Ignorance and free will had a terrible consequence.”
“This place has been here the whole time? It’s the same Garden?”
“Yes. It was sealed, protected and isolated after they left. It survived the march of time, the flood and the rise of Mankind. All the plants, all the animals in the original Garden, male and female, all here.”
“Wow.” I looked at the ground, not an inch was bare. “So if the animals here are all original, how did Earth get populated with them?”
“They were fruitful and multiplied,” he said. “Their offspring were sent out from the Garden, and there were lots of offspring. The Cherubim kept Adam and Eve and their descendants from returning, but it did not prevent the animals and birds from departing to spread across the lands. That was the plan with Adam and Eve too; they were going to stay here, eat from the Tree of Life and bring forth children to send into the world. Of course, since Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world, the ones who left were mortal, and the curses changed everything.”
We had made it down the hillside, and the domed roof was now a few hundred feet above us. The false sky glowed brighter than it had when I had first arrived. “The Garden has a day and night, the light changes to mimic what is going on above. There are no clouds, no rain, no storms. Water rises from the ground and the mist waters the plants so they may grow strong and fruitful.”
However He did it, it worked well, like a conservatory full of exotic plants. Tall trees reached for the dome, higher than the giant redwoods I’d seen in California. Shrubs and plants thrived, their fruits abundant. Animals and birds moved about without fear, calling to each other in the morning light. Many were friendly, coming up to us and receiving a scratch on the ear or a pat from Jesus as we walked. A huge black panther pair came up on me from behind, their heads pushing up against my hands until I started scratching them in earnest. “They aren’t afraid of me,” I said in wonder.
“Why would they be? There is no death here, no predators. All my creation lives in peace and harmony here and has done so since the beginning. The lion lays down with the lamb, and they both eat grass together. The land brings forth food in abundance for them all.” It was true, I could see a tiger ahead pulling up grass and eating it. “They’ve missed the presence of my human creations since Adam and Eve were banished. These two especially, they love to lie around getting scratched.”
“It’s paradise,” I said as I looked at the crystal-clear river that flowed out of the large lake. Fish of all kinds, sharks, whales, even dolphins were seen. The dolphins came close and started to do flips out of the water, chattering excitedly.
“They have missed you as well.” He picked a fruit off a tree, it looked like a golden pear, and chucked it into the water. One of the dolphins caught it in the air, sharing it with his mate. “Charlotte is right over here,” he said.
I looked past where his hand was pointed, and my heart leaped in my throat. She was sitting on a rock by the water, feeding the ducks and geese and giggling. There was no sign of an injury anymore. “Charlotte?”
She turned at my voice and her face lit up when she saw me. “JAMES!” She got up and jumped into my arms as I ran to her, her naked body clinging to me. We kissed deeply, finally coming up for air when I was tapped on the shoulder. “Sorry, we’re newlyweds,” she said.
Jesus laughed and hugged her. “Love never requires an apology, Charlotte. You’ll have to teach him to lose his modesty, though. It’s SO after the fall.”
She laughed and pulled my swim trunks down. As soon as they hit the ground, they disappeared. “There’s nothing about the body God gave us that we need to hide or be ashamed of,” she told me as she came to my side. “Thank you again for saving me, even though I didn’t deserve it.”
“It’s what I do,” he said. “Why don’t you make sure she is caught up on everything we talked about on the way here, before we go on to more.”
I repeated what he had said about the fall of Adam and Eve, the purpose and contents of the Garden, and what the animals ate and why they weren’t afraid. “Death is not part of the Garden, so the pairs have been here since Creation,” I finished.
“Good summary,” Jesus said. “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is still there and eating of it won’t change anything now. You have the knowledge of sin, but you also have the forgiveness of sin available to you. All of this has been preserved because the reason for it has never gone away.”
“What reason was that,” Charlotte asked.
“I want to walk with my creation in the cool of the morning, to have true fellowship with you and your children,” he said. “To rest on the seventh day and look out on it, knowing it was good. That was the reason I made this Garden, and that is why I preserved through these times and hid it away. The time of Man is coming to an end; their wickedness grows, and their power for destruction is great. I will not prevent what is going to happen from happening. Instead, I will allow evil to flow unchecked to its inevitable conclusion.”
“Wait, they’re going to die? You’re letting them die?”
“Mankind has been on this course since Adam and Eve left the garden. Those who have repented and accepted me will not die, but they will not be part of the new Earth. They will live in a new heaven and new Earth, in New Jerusalem. This Earth will be repopulated by you, and the plants and animals here with you.”
“My father,” Charlotte said in horror as she sank to her knees.
“It cannot be stopped now. Your father will be a part of the trigger for the war that brings mankind to an end. The discovery of Eden will be the flashpoint that takes the nations to war.”
We didn’t say anything for a while, Charlotte just allowed herself to be pulled into my lap and I comforted her while we tried to process what he was saying. I looked out over the lake, out at the trees and the animals. Many were coming into the clearing, coming up to us and rubbing against us like they wanted to comfort us. Finally, I had to ask. “Extinction level event?”
“Yes. The pieces are already in place, and there is nothing you can do to change them now. Man has harnessed powers he cannot control, it is inevitable that they will destroy themselves.”
“Wait a minute, you’re God, you can stop it!”
He nodded. “I can, but I won’t. It’s time to start over, and I’m glad it is with the two of you. James, your heart is compassionate, and you have a strength to you that is exceptional. You carry guilt from what you have done in your life, but you did what had to be done. You protected the innocent and did what you had to do as a warrior and a man. Lay that guilt down for me and leave it behind. Love your wife and take dominion over this world as the new Adam.”
“You were created to have authority over the plants and beasts in the Garden. Tell that shrub to bring forth its fruit.” I did, and in seconds it was full of ripe berries, ready for the gathered animals to eat. My mouth dropped as I felt the power in me.
“Charlotte, you have love and compassion beyond measure. You will become the Mother of the human race. Your children shall inherit the Earth. You will raise them to fear God and treat each other with love and respect.”
“I don’t know if I can do that,” she said nervously. “How can I be mother to a world?”
“You trust in me,” he said. “I’ll leave you now. Explore your world and eat freely of the Garden.”
He walked away and I held Charlotte close. The news that war was coming to the world had shaken us to the core. Everyone we knew, everyone we loved and cared about was doomed and we were stuck here in Paradise. “We have to warn them,” she said. “Maybe there is still time to stop it.”
“I was there when he closed the entrance, we’re completely sealed off by solid rock now,” I said. “There is no way back to the surface. He even sent the Cherubim away because he didn’t need them anymore.”
“They are going to come back,” she said. “My father is stubborn, he’ll find a way to come here for me, even if it is just to retrieve my body. The submarine is still out there, and its internal memory still has the images it took, and Ben and Mark will know that.” The submarine had its own memory as a backup, and in case the umbilical was detached.
“And if Ben and Mark survived, they will have the photos and video from the submarine control panel,” I said. “If they didn’t, the Iranians might have them, or they find the submarine.” What a shitstorm. Proof of the Garden of Eden’s existence would rock the world. “Either way, no one is going to come for us soon. The people and equipment to dive to this depth aren’t readily available to either side.”
“So, we have some time,” she said softly.
“We do. Time to come up with a plan to warn them before they tip the world over into war. ”I moved my hand down to where her wound had been, it was smooth and blemish-free. “Did you eat of the Tree of Life? Is that what healed you?”
“God healed me, and he gave me the fruit from the Tree of Life and told me what it was, and that I could eat it if I wished. I wanted to wait until I could do it with you, since the last time someone ate strange fruit in the Garden it didn’t go well.” She got up and walked over to where a pomegranate-like fruit was sitting in the soft grass. “Should we?”
“There is no death in the Garden, and God just told us we may freely eat of the Garden.” I broke the fruit open, exposing the juicy center. “Eat with me, and we have forever together.”
“Forever,” she said as she brought it to her lips. We bit down, it was a foreign taste but pleasant, and when we swallowed, we felt a pulse of energy through our bodies. We kept eating until it was gone. “You’re stuck with me to the end of time now,” she said with a grin.
“I can live with that,” I said as I pulled her close. I licked the juices from her mouth and kissed her deeply. “I want you.”
“Make love to me, James. I’m yours.” I sat down in the soft grass overlooking the lake and pulled her on top of me to do just that.