“What is this, Eve?” Adam pointed at his feet where a strange plant grew. He was sure he’d never seen it before. It had spiny branches, small purple flowers, and thorns longer than Adam’s little finger.
“I don’t know, Husband.” She knelt at his feet and touched the stiff spines. “But I like the purple flower.”
He leaned over and touched her shoulder. “Be careful, Eve. So many things are different now.”
“But it may be that it’s food for us. Since Father sent us through the flaming portal, we have learned to cook and eat many different foods. Perhaps this is some new kind of vegetable…”
Eve reached for the strange plant again. “I’m going to try to pluck it. Do you have your flint?”
“No, don’t touch it! You might…get hurt…”
Eve looked puzzled. “Hurt?”
Adam pulled her to her feet and gently grasped her shoulders, turning her to face him.
“Remember what Father said in the before time? He said, ‘The ground will be cursed and thorns will grow.’ Perhaps this is a thorn.”
Adam looked down at the sharp, needle-like leaves on the small green plant. “I’m sure of it, and I don’t think thorns are a good thing, Eve.”
“Perhaps, Husband. But the flower is so pretty, don’t you think?”
Her words transported him back, back to the before time, the day he saw Eve for the first time, after he’d awakened from a deep sleep. He recalled the excitement on Father’s face as He took Adam’s arm and drew him forward to gaze at her, mere moments after He’d fashioned her. Father’s life-breath still hung in the air over her face as she yawned and stretched. That was the day Adam had first learned the meaning of the word pretty.
Adam studied her downturned face. She was still pretty, even with the shadows and lines around her eyes. Her face had changed that disastrous day, as the juice of the forbidden fruit dribbled over her chin and splashed on her arm, the day they’d both listened to the song of the serpent.
He stayed her hand as she reached for the thorny plant. “No, Eve, I don’t think you should touch it.”
She argued with him, something they found themselves doing more and more. “But…”
Eve broke off and stumbled backward a step, her dark eyes wide and the skin around them stretched thin. She stared at something over his left shoulder, then collapsed, moaning, at his feet, her face hidden behind her hands.
Adam whirled, crouching in a fighting stance. He thought he’d see one of the big cats, also changed since that day when the sun dimmed. The cats no longer spoke to them, nor allowed them to pet their tawny coats, rumbling a deep purr when he and Eve scratched their bellies. Companionship disappeared that day, replaced by fear between human and cats.
Adam relaxed when he saw no cat behind him, but what he did see dropped him to his knees beside his trembling wife.
A shimmering Presence stood there. Adam could just barely remember what his Creator looked like when they’d shared life with Him in the Garden, but it hadn’t been like this…the light so brilliant it hurt his head to gaze at it, the scent of some unknown spice filling his nostrils, and the birdsong overhead trilling a soft melody never before heard.
As he stared, slack-jawed in awe, the Presence resolved itself into a man, tall and strong, laughter wrinkling His eyes and playing around His mouth. Adam now recognized Him. He wanted to jump up and run into his Creator’s arms, but the wonder of the sight kept his knees pinned to the ground.
Father stepped forward, His expression now grave, but somehow reassuring Adam that all would be well.
“Adam, my son, and Eve, my daughter. Do not be afraid of the thorn. Yes, it is sharp and it might pierce your hand as you touch it, but it has a great purpose in this dark world.”
“Lord God, You are here? In this place where we are banished?” Adam’s voice almost failed him, his question dwindling to a whisper.
“My son, I AM.”
Adam felt the delicious warmth and breathed in the sweet scent of His breath, like honey, his Creator’s presence wrapping around him as he knelt there.
He looked up and a frown wrinkled his forehead.
“You have a question, Adam?”
“What…what is the thorn’s purpose? Is it food for us?”
The Lord God stepped closer to his children and drew them to their feet, one massive hand on each shoulder.
“No, my children, it is not food for you.”
He reached down and plucked the spiny plant out of the ground. Turning it over in His hand, He said, “One day, many times ahead, I will wear them as a crown on My head…as I hang between heaven and earth for your redemption. Just as I clothed you with the skins you now wear, I will then clothe you with My presence and My perfection, that you will never be apart from Me again. But first I must wear the thorns.”
The Creator tenderly laid the thorn in Adam’s hand.
Adam saw a smear of blood on Father’s fingers. Looking into His face, he saw there a tender expression that nearly drove him to the ground again.
“Yes, My son. I too bleed, just as you. That is the purpose of the thorn. When I cursed the ground with thorns because of your rebellion, I also made a way for the thorn to become a blessing for you and the generations of My people to come. From now on, every time you bleed because of the thorn, you will remember its purpose.”
And suddenly, just as Father had appeared to them, he was gone, leaving them staring in wonder at the thorn in Adam’s hand. The spicy scent lingered, and the birdsong overhead turned mournful at His leaving.
Adam gazed where the Lord God had stood. His footprints remained, large and deep. The first man knelt and traced Father’s footprints with his index finger, then looked up at Eve.
She whispered, “The Mercy Thorn. That’s what I’ll always call it, Husband.”
He stood and took her hand, cradling it against his chest. “Yes, and we will teach its name to our children.”
A tear slid down her cheek. “Do you think we will see Him again?”
Adam lowered his gaze to the thorn. “Oh yes, Wife. We will see Him again. But, I think, not as before… and not as today.”
(Adapted from the first chapter of my book, Leaving Your Lover.)