The Work of His Fingers

From Psalm 8:3-6 NIV

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet”

In the deep darkness, water bursts from under the ground, trickling, teasing, spilling over black earth, seeping into the soil.

“Ah.” The Gardener sighs, listening to the quiet trickle and smiling. “It is good. What next?”

Unhurried, he bends, reaching his fingers deep into the soil, grabbing a cool handful of clay.  Stars rupture the sky in pinprick brilliance. The full-bellied moon casts light onto the water. The Gardener glimpses his reflection. “Mmm.” He murmurs thoughtfully, wetness of clay slipping between his fingers. “Yes…” The Gardener’s hands shape a cylinder, and then deftly move to form the face, the body, the arms, legs, hands, tiny, flexible fingers: one, two, three, four and thumb makes five. “One more little touch.” He smiles. “There!”

The Gardener bends towards the little figure and with a tender, warm breath blows essence and soul into the two perfectly formed nostrils. The little creature sighs, and lies sleeping, chest rising and falling in gentle rhythm. He pauses, scrutinising his creation, leans over and pats its head. The Gardener is busy: time for some cultivating. He hums as he works. Thus: orange trees and cabbages and lavender and bulrushes and cacti and orchids and rosemary and eucalyptus and tall, dancing cypresses. Effervescing water widens into a river, pouring out through the garden and into the lands beyond. He says, “It is good.”

The Gardener lifts the little creature, waking it in the process, and sets it on its two feet in the midst of the trees and vegetation. “You are Adam.” A gentle, confidential whisper, “A man!”

The man blinks.

“Now, listen,” The Gardener is solemn, “you may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad.” He points. The man turns, following the finger. “You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day.” Adam nods; eyes wide. The Gardener contemplates the body of water, and the trees, and the bushes. All is still, save the noiseless flow. He returns his gaze to the man.

“It is quiet.” He says. The man nods again and follows the gaze of his maker, listening to the sound of his own breath, watching the water. Suddenly, thoughtfully, The Gardener says, “You should not be alone. I will make a companion for you.”

Adam smiles and claps his hands. The sky in the east becomes grey, and softly pink. The Gardener bends down and accumulates another handful of damp clay. He starts with a cylinder again, a head, arms, legs and a curling tail. With a quick breath he blows warmth and life into the creature. It jumps up and turns around, teeth chattering. Humming a contented tune, The Gardener presents his new creation for the man to see.

“You are called Adam,” The Gardener says, contemplatively, “and you are a man.” He lifts his palm towards the man. “What shall we call it?

Adam stares at his maker and then back at the little chattering creature. He repeats this several times before pronouncing, “Mon? Mon? Er…” He screws up his nose and furrows his brow. “Monkey!” Adam exclaims. The creature runs towards the nearest tree and scurries up its trunk, pauses, and turns to watch the rest of the proceedings.

“Tum te tum te tum.” Humming again, The Gardener grasps the clay between finger and thumb, pinches the two ends, then tweaks the two sides until he forms a beak, a tail and wings. He breathes over the creation and with a squawk and a flutter the creature shakes itself awake, peering over the side of the hand and settling a black, beady eye on Adam.

Adam returns the gaze. “Bird!” He cries. And the bird breaks into vigorous flapping, heading towards the dense undergrowth and disappearing in the foliage. The Gardener creates more birds, more monkeys, lizards and caterpillars, rabbits and foxes, fireflies and donkeys and gnus. Adam gasps with delight at each new animal, and each new name spills from his lips, echoing his maker’s act with the creativity of naming. After some time, The Gardener creates four legs, large claws, and a thick, fiery mane.

“Lion.” Adam breathes, suitably impressed by the magnificence of the creation. The lion lifts its head and yawns, sharp, white points gleaming against a livid, fleshy tongue. Adam’s eyebrows rise, his mouth parting in a dubious frown.

“Don’t worry!” says The Gardener. “I was just getting a little carried away. Now, let me think… A suitable companion is what I said, didn’t I?”

Adam nods. The Gardener taps his fingers. “Hmm. Yes, I have an idea.” The Gardener hums a jaunty tune as he again gathers the clay and begins deftly shaping a fine nose, brown, almond eyes, a mouth with just a hint of a smile, legs, and a body.

“There.” says The Gardener, sounding pleased.

Adam grins. “Dog!” He says happily, as the little grey creature trots towards him, wagging its tail. He reaches down and strokes its ears, then lifts his arms into a stretch. Yawning, he sits on the grass. The dog settles beside him.

“Watch!” The Gardener says. “I’ll do some more.”

Humming and smiling all the while, the industrious creator fills the garden with animals large and animals small, some quiet, some shy, others loud and screeching. Every so often he takes a look at the little man. After a while, he pauses, looking around at all that fills the garden. Something is still not right. Adam sits, amused, and bemused, by all that The Gardener has placed before him. The Gardener watches Adam and the dog, which has fallen asleep, its furry head against Adam’s thigh.

The Gardener sighs. “That’s not quite right, is it?” He says to himself. “A suitable companion, Adam?” The Gardener inquires, indicating the sleeping creature. The man looks down, strokes the silky fur and smiles. Then his face changes and he gazes at his maker somewhat wistfully.

“I . . . thank you.” Adam bows his head.

“You are my beloved.” The Gardener says tenderly. “You shall have a suitable companion. Lie down, Adam.”

The Gardener breathes and Adam finds his eyes sticky and his head drooping. He stretches himself out on the grass and falls, tumbles, into soft, silent sleep. The Gardener tweaks Adam, just as if he was made of clay again, and pulls out a short, slightly curved stick. He folds up the skin and blows gently, sealing over the wound. Adam’s chest rises and falls. From the stick The Gardener fashions another, like Adam but a little different. He gives this one softness and curves and shapes that the man lacks. Newly-made birds begin the chorus of morning. Breathing gently over the second creature, setting it on its feet, he wakes Adam.

Adam rubs his eyes and yawns. Then he notices the other creature, and jumps to his feet. His hand flies to his side. He frowns, gaze flickering between his abdomen and the new creature. “At last! Here is one of my own kind.” Adam breathes in wonder. “Bone taken from my bone,” he pats his side, “and flesh from my flesh.”

The man walks forward, grinning. “Woman is her name because she was taken out of man.”

The morning breeze tickles her hair and she laughs. The dog wakes and runs toward Adam. The woman’s mouth curves and her eyes crease into a smile. She rubs its head. Adam does the same and, taking her hand in his own, brings it to his lips, tenderly kissing her fingers. Gold rays burst over the horizon into morning.

“It is good.” The Gardener says, smiling.