So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
When I was a child, my mother’s mother told me about the day she saw the Cherubim. She and her brother were out gathering food when he stumbled across the passage beyond the way of thorns. We knew to respect the way of thorns, it held great beauty and danger, and it was the source of all life. The rivers were born in the center of those thorns and spread out in each direction. Those who were lost could follow the waters and find refuge at their head. Just beyond the thorns were lush fruits to be gathered from all manner of trees and bushes. None lived there but the Ancient Mother and her Children. The Ancient Mother would sigh and weep from within the thorns. Her sobbing would shake the ground. Her Children circled the hedge, keeping guard over her. My mother taught us to respect Her, to come before Her only in great need or in times of thanks. We feared the Ancient Mother because she cast out the first Father and cursed the ground for his sake. The thistle and thorn are his legacy. But She provided the mists to soften the soil and give us our daily drink. Because of her gifts, people could stray far from the rivers to find better land and herd their flocks.
My mother’s mother and her brother were soil workers. One year, they were near death for the ground would not yield its fruits to them. So they followed the river to save their lives. They took gord husks to carry enough fruit home to their family. When they reached the Hedge they cried out to the Ancient Mother a song of thanksgiving for the refuge she provided. They plucked from the fruits short of the hedge, they ate and felt refreshed.
Quickly they set to work, wishing to leave before they might be cast out. They minded the twisting, looping thorns and moved quickly and quietly. Suddenly, a short cry came to my mother’s mother ears. She stopped and found her brother laying on the ground, part way under the hedge. Her brother had dropped a piece of fruit. When he went to grab it, he fell through the thick grass covering a crevice in the soil that made an opening under the hedge. She tried to stop him, but he told her that he could see a path and pressed forward.
The brother called to her and she refused to follow. He told her of the beauty of the garden. The hedge was tall and thick, shading the garden. Every fruit beyond the hedge was bright and luscious. He shouted as he tasted some. Quickly he gathered them into his gord, dumping out the lesser fruits and asking his sister to join him. She insisted he come back, recalling the kindness of the Ancient Mother, hoping that it hold out. Then a gust of wind swept through the hedge, rattling the vines. The brother cried out in fear. My mother’s mother saw orange and red glinting off the jagged thorns, which looked like bloodied fangs. She felt the heat of the swirling flame and bowed low to the ground. Words she did not understand, cracked like thunder as the heat and light drew closer. She could see from under the hedge her brother lay atop his gord. A great winged beast with a soft beautiful face, like a babe, loomed over him. Around it, circled a flame, continuously winding around like a viper ready to strike. She called to her brother. He crawled to the hedge and they clasped hands. She pulled him out and they fled. They ran from the garden, from the hedge and from the wrath of the Cherubim.
My mother’s mother scolded her brother and thanked the Ancient Mother for the mercy Her children showed them. Those Cherubim didn’t strike her brother and didn’t pursue them past the hedge of thorns.
And now I thank the Ancient Mother for keeping me alive to tell you about the day my mother’s mother saw the Cherubim guarding the way to Eden. May She lengthen your days that you may live to tell of it to your children’s children.
This can be seen as extension of the Bradbury Challenge. The Bible is full of stories that hold great symbolic meaning. I regularly study the Bible and have decided to write a short piece each week following the annual Torah portion schedule. I am starting late with this first entry, but I will hurry along and catch over the next couple weeks. All of this is quite sudden, but I really want to push myself to write more and I feel this will enrich my study going forward.