Friday, July 16, 2010

A Series of Graciously Unfortunate Events—Episode 2

(from Genesis 3—a story of creation)

Download a dramatic reading of "A Series of Graciously Unfortunate Event - Episode 2" complete with sound effects and musical score!

What a great image, attempting to sew fig leaves together to hide one's shame. Like the leaf of any tree, once stripped from its branch, fig leaves eventually become dry and brittle and crack and crumble into uselessness. Still, maybe it's human nature to try to hide, even defend, our foolishness.

And that's what the woman and the man continued to do in deed and in word. They must have asked themselves over and over again, "Why? What were we trying to accomplish?" Somehow the answer seemed so lame, so insufficient after the fact. How very much they had risked. The things they did all day. Unbelievable. The new things they discovered every day. The good, hard work and the delirious thoughts they would think and inventions they would come across—creation. It was the most amazing thing, to every day continue the creation that God had started. It was hard work, but good work. This was their true life’s work. They both knew it.

It was agonizing. The thinking. The mulling over everything in their minds. "What if I had just walked away?" the woman must have asked herself. "What if I had just said no" the man must have thought. "What were we thinking?" The waiting must have been agonizing as well. "Of course someone is going to say something, not the least of which, God. What will he say?" As many times as they told themselves that today would be no different, that nothing had changed, that the world was the same—waiting there on the rock, as the sun rolled away from them, a pain stabbed their eyes and they could not catch their breath—and they knew the truth—it was they who had changed. "We need to get our story straight? Maybe we should come right out and tell him. Yeah, that would be best. Honesty. Yeah."

But the resolve to be entirely forthright must not have had enough time to set in, because before he realized what he was doing, the man was up and running. "He’s coming!" the man screamed in a tone he’d never used before, yet as it reached the woman’s ears it did not seem strange or foreign. She understood it’s terror all too clearly. She felt like she should grab something, take something with them, but didn’t know what. She had never thought of any thing as valuable—not worth losing—before and didn’t realize that was what she was doing now. In frustration she gave up, finding nothing of value, feeling like she had misplace the one thing she would need.

They struggled to keep their fig leaves properly situated. Running clothed, perhaps even running away, was all new for them. They were down the embankment and sprinting hard. The woman took the ravine in one leap not breaking her stride. The man followed. They looked into the darkness ahead of them, the dense trees the sun had abandoned momentarily. They looked into the darkness, picking up the pace, faster, trying to get beyond the light, needing the shadow of the trees.

They made the tree line, not stopping until they were well inside the grove. The man collapsed against a tree, the woman on the ground. There hearts were pounding, lungs burning, exhausted in a way they’d never known before.

The early evening rays returned again to the grove, melting the shadows around the man and the woman as they clutched the earth, on all fours and, maybe for the first time in human history, puking their insides out. They said nothing for some time. Either working things through in their minds, figuring, trying to find a way out, find the next step or trying not to think at all. Trying to keep their minds in neutral, hearing only their own breathing and feeling the sun burn their skin.

The man rolled over on his back, coughed and spit to one side. The woman sat up and leaned against a tree trying to brush the vomit from a modestly placed leaf. “This is ridiculous,” she said.
"And?” said the man, accusing the woman with his tone, almost hating her.
“And what? That’s what I’m saying. Why are we running, hiding? Ridiculous! And what are we going to do now?”
The man rallied a little, feeling some camaraderie, knowing she was as desperate and angry as he was. "We will... well, we know... we know what is going to happen next," the man said. Then he explained, "There will be a trial. We will be found guilty and then we will be put to death" (Well, probably not, but that is how they act later on.) The man paused but felt compelled to go on, not letting 'death' hang there, finding meaning and finishing his sentence. “....and then...”
“And then? There is no and then. Once we have death that will be it. That is all we will have.”
“You don’t know...”
“I know; you know too.”
The man did know. They both knew. Well, not exactly knew. To the extent that they knew anything about death, they knew its precursor—dread.

Then they heard the question they had been dreading. God spoke, "Where are you?"
And the man blurted out in fearful response, "The woman you gave me made me do it!"

Well, that was odd. How is "The woman made me do it" an answer to the question "Where are you?" Immediately the man really does turn it into a trial, by trying to defend or justify his actions. Perhaps that's why so many people tell this story that way. They obviously identify with the man and the woman's misconceptions of who God seeks to be in the story more than they see what the Hebrews storytellers might have learned about God over the years of telling the story.

-Most of episode 2 contributed by Russell Rathbun.

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