ALIVE: Chapter Two - The Next Day

Cain went to live in the land of Nod to try to escape the emotional grip of the blood-stained earth that reminded him of his jealousy and his crime. Childless again, Eve had plenty of time to think about life and death. She still couldn't imagine how she could die someday since Abel was murdered, and no human had ever before died a natural death.

The chirping birds reminded her of the days before she knew death at all. She wondered to herself if she had been more alive when she was ignorant of death. Then she thought about Abel and that God said that Abel had been sent to a place called Hades. That concept was too much for her, so she went looking for Adam.

"Adam, Adam where are you!" she called. Eve went over to his favorite cave and called his name again; no answer. Then she went to Cain's garden where she found him tying up tomato plants on the clever conical frames he had constructed with branches and vines.

"Here I am, what is it Eve?"

"Adam, can we talk?"

"Okay," he said somewhat glad for the break. She went closer to him and together they walked hand in hand up the hill to their favorite grassy spot. When they arrived, Adam was first to break the silence, "What's on your mind my dear?"

"Adam, before I was created, did God tell you anything about being alive without a body? How is that possible? Being alive to me means being able to see and hear and feel, it means to be able to run through the fields and hug and make cartwheels. Remember when God said that Abel went to Hades? How is that possible? We buried his blue lifeless body in the earth, did it go deeper?"

"No, Eve. God didn't tell me anything about that. Remember, before you came we never had anything to do with death. But think about it, God is alive, and we speak to Him and He to us, but He has no body, and He said we were made in His image. So being alive may have nothing to do with being in a body."

Eve's grief turned to confusion and then despair. She began to weep.

"Come on Eve, snap out of it. There is nothing we can do but live and breath, grow food and eat it, and tend Abel's flock. We should be much too busy to think. Let's go back and work on those tomato plants some more. Don't you like that name I gave them? TOE-MAE-TOE! I thought it sounded rhythmical." Adam said trying to console her with a little levity, but he only succeeded in making Eve think even more.

Meanwhile, Cain was well into his journey alone hiking up and around mountainsides and traversing stream beds where he washed off his brother's blood and watched it turn the clear water mauve. While hiking, Cain had plenty of time to think. He thought about his brother and he missed him. Abel should have been on this journey with him. They had had so many boyish adventures together, climbing trees and trying to ride on the animals. But soon his sense of guilt returned and with it the fear. He had to remind himself that God marked him so no one could kill him. He imagined himself inside an eggshell of stone. Then he wondered how God could have been so kind to him after what he had done to destroy his own flesh-and-blood brother. It was as if the depths of his jealousy was elevated by the extreme height of God's forgiveness like a magnet that sucked up his sin. Sin, what did God say? Cain struggled to remember. It was something about sin crouching at your door. Ummmm. If I don't do well, sin will be crouching at the door to take me. Then what? What did God say about sin? I need to master it, and not fall into its grip.

The fear Cain felt forced him to try harder to understand God's advice. It was the only defense he had against collapse. Master sin. Master sin? I have no idea what that means? He thought to himself.

Then his thoughts turned to Abel again and how he would work with his sheep, how he corralled them and drove them hither and yon, from the grassy fields to the streams. Abel was the master of his sheep. "What do I know about being the master of anything?" He thought. "My plants don't have a mind of their own. They never go off to hide. I have never had to master anything or any one. Well, maybe I tried to master Abel, so I killed him. Oh Abel!!! Please come back and help me learn how to master sin."

"Fall into its grips... Is that what happened when I killed my brother? I don't know what that means." Cain's mind spun him to and fro. He felt like he was grabbing at strings in the air. Every time he caught one, another would slip away. He fell to the ground in mental exhaustion. Fortunately for Cain, he was in a grassy field. He closed his eyes and breathed in the fresh smell of the grass. On the ground he decided to sleep away his confusion. Sleep wouldn't come so fast. So he tried to free himself from his thoughts by simply feeling the warmth of the late afternoon sun on his bare skin. He listened to all the different sounds of birds and little animals around him. He tried to identify them, then he tried to count them. Sleep finally took hold of him.

"Cain, I'll race you to the that olive tree, okay? Ready, set, ...

"Wait a minute! I am not ready."

Abel started running anyhow and three little sheep ran by his side.

Seeing his brother running with the sheep, Cain took off to catch up. The faster he ran the farther away he got from Abel. Slowing down to breathe convulsively he looked up to see in the distance Abel engulfed in a sea of sheep and strange winged beings that looked human hovering in the air.

"BOO! Did I scare you?" said Abel right in his face. "Come here sheep, now stand in a straight line. Show this brother of mine what it means to obey."

An handful of sheep of different sizes all lined up head to tail in a long serpentine formation, like an army of wool.

"Heads left!"

All sheep heads faced Cain. Ten or twelve sets of eyes stared at him to pierce his guilt ridden soul.

Cain turned his head away. He couldn't bare to see those eyes upon him.

He started to run. But he found himself running toward Abel.

"Stop!" Shouted Abel. "I command you to stop running." Cain wondered how he could hear Abel so clearly. It was as if his brother was speaking to him within his own head.

Just then, Cain awoke in a particularly dewy mist. Drenched and groggy he stood up to shake off the water. He was glad and sorry that he only saw Abel in a dream. While he was still partially in his dream and in his reality, Cain tried as hard as could to return to the dream where he could be with his brother again, and ask him if he knew how to master sin. Cain hadn't forgotten how much he wanted to know what that meant.

Then he remembered how his mother and father would call out to God and God would come to them. Perhaps he could try that too.

"God!" Cain shouted as loudly as he could. Then he waited for a while. Nothing.

"God!!!! I need to talk to you!!! Please come here!" he yelled a full octave louder, surprising himself.

After a while of silence Cain continued on his lonesome journey to Nod.

A half a mile later Cain felt a foreign presence within him. To test it he asked, "How will I eat if I cannot tend my precious fruits and vegetables?"

A reply came, "As a wonderer you must forage for your food. God will provide. He already has when He planted the food for you ages before you were even conceived in your mother's womb."

Then Cain asked, "Why did God prefer Abel's lamb to my offering? We both gave Him of the fruit of our labor?"

The inner voice replied, "Because blood the lamb will have great significance for our Lord. You couldn't have known that. Where you went wrong, was to care so much. Your concern was only for yourself, not for the Lord's joy, or for your brother's."

"Was that sin?"

"Yes. Sin is anything that separates you from the image of God. You allowed yourself to be different than a loving God whose rejoices in His children equally. You pulled yourself out of God's circle of love. Imagine a powerful centrifuge going around and around and now imagine that you jettisoned yourself with self centeredness and disturbed all of creation. Like electrons taking off, like a planet shooting out of orbit, like chaos."

"I have no idea of what you are saying. What is an electron; what is chaos?"

"Of course you don't." replied the spirit. "Sorry, don't bother to try.

The point is that sin is at the same time a foreign substance that you can and must control, and it is infused in your being, crouching at the doors of your mind and heart. If you don't master sin it will master you. It will drive you to do things, like kill your brother, that will continue to fling you from God-likeness. You must first learn how to see sin as an unwelcome guest within you, much in the way that I am a visitor within you right now. You must create an inner shield deep within your mind and heart to separate yourself from sin, then master it."

The spirit went on, "Did you notice how kind God was to you, even to the point of giving you the mark of protection, just as He gave your parents clothing when they sinned, when they separated themselves from His love?

You Cain, like your parents before you separated from God, but in the same manner, with your will, you can bring yourself back into alignment.

Try to be like Him as you go into the world and encounter children of men who will act in opposition to you. Treat them as God treated you and your parents in your own rebellion. I have said enough. Think on these things that you may live."

The spirit left Cain as suddenly as it had arrived. He tried to continue the conversation in his mind, but nothing came. It was more obvious than ever, that he wasn't talking to himself, but to a sort of spirit who was counseling him.

By then Cain's stomach growled loudly. No sooner had the thought come into his mind than He looked at his feet to find himself in the midst of a field of strawberries. He crouched down and popped strawberry after strawberry into his mouth with such rapidity that the little chipmunks ambling around stared at him in amazement.