Saturday, 27 October 2012


In springtime Jacarandas, those coquettish young ladies
Dip their parasols on balmy evenings
Swirl their lavender crinolines to the waltz of the wind
Toss their purple mantillas and trail them seductively

But when the savage western gales have left
their nubile sisters shivering, denuded and forlorn
The hoary old ladies, veterans of many a lonely winter
Stand in massive eloquence
Thrusting their arms to the sky

Copyright Jo Collett 2001


Jacarandas in Grafton October 2012

Head versus heart, a fierce battle.

Ever done a personality test? As part of a training day I just did one, and have previously taken the Briggs-Meyer test. The results are never written in stone, but they do highlight the fact that people are not the same in their personalities and this can be useful in understanding conflict, both within oneself and interpersonal.

My own results have changed over the years. The scores on the thinking, reasoning component of my personality are very close to the scores for the emotional, creative sphere. I can be very nurturing and creative, but increasingly I have learned to be more rational and practical. I like to think of it as being that my head is well balanced with my heart. This is all very well when my head and heart are of one accord with an issue. But what if my head and heart are in conflict?

We read in Genesis that God created the world and mankind, and everything was well and good and full of life. I imagine it was an extremely well balanced world. But then Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan and sinned and there were awful consequences: loss of relationship with God, banishment, the curse of sin upon all their descendents, hard work, sorrow, death.  Romans chapter 8 tells us that all creation groans and suffers decay from that point.

The good news is, of course, found in John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. We who have given our lives to Jesus have the assurance of our eternal salvation and life with Him, through His death and resurrection. It is the Holy Spirit in us which enables us to resist evil.

Yet we still live in a fallen world. Make no mistake, Satan is ever at work to tempt us into sin. He is the source of confusion and conflict, the Father of lies. Whilst we live in our human bodies we will always be subject to temptation.

God made us as humans with intelligence, rational thought, and emotions, all of which are good and make us human. Since the fall we must deal with the spoiling of God’s perfect creation of these things. Humans now experience fears, mental illness, emotional instability, a lack of balance in self confidence, to name a few problems. The very God- given uniqueness of every human being can be a problem. Whilst we may cherish our individuality, we may also lack insight and empathy as to why people react or behave differently to ourselves.

I’ve learned that two people can look at a situation and see totally different things. Some people see the forest, others the trees. Some people see a physical environment as important, others personal relationships. Some people value financial resources, others time. Some people want the emphasis in their church to be worship or counselling or missions.  For some the most important quality to look for in a marriage partner is similar ministry goals, for another it may be similar family expectations. There are no rights or wrongs in many of these things, just differing points of view.

At different times in our lives we all face temptations when our hearts and heads are in conflict and may battle for a while, sometimes a long while, before the issue is resolved. It may be clearly sin as far as God’s word is concerned, for example, an extra-marital affair. Or it may be less clear – for example you may love your job but have your efforts sabotaged by a jealous colleague; you might love the social life in your church but be drawn to a ministry program in another. You may be the spouse of someone who has revealed an affair. I can think of no clearer case where the rational mind can be overcome with powerful emotions and, in some cases, a marriage and family that could be restored is abandoned.

Where we have these conflict situations much prayer, thinking through and the counsel of godly friends and professionals is important, rather than making hasty emotional decisions. Again, there is often no right or wrong decision, just a gradual move into the direction where the mind and heart are more in accord. Sometimes when the mind decides, the heart follows. I might love my old church, or former boyfriend/girlfriend, or job, but that doesn’t mean I might not love a new, albeit different one.
And when head and heart are both of one accord, look out! The possibilities exist for something amazing to happen.

 Thank goodness we have God! The end of this devotion and the most important part of it all is to emphasize that He is the author of peace and resolution and comfort through the presence in our lives of his indwelling Holy Spirit. God epitomises grace and forgiveness like no other. He imparts his wisdom into all our decisions. I love the Greek name for the Holy Spirit, the Parakletos, meaning “One who comes alongside.” He is with us as counsellor and confidante when we seek Him through prayer and meditation and Christian consultation. As He has said in His word “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5). Praise God!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Rescue - a wordwalk

Here I am, alone, unafraid
life’s castaway, sheltering upon
my own sandy shore, playing in wavelets, picking shells
and dancing on the tidal strand
I make my home with my own hands, a bower
of palm fronds, interlaced, sheltering
from sun and breezes, here I lie
dreaming my own forgettable dreams

Not seeing the thunderheads looming
in a darkening sky, upon the far horizons

Ah, how the air is chilled, a still silence
pervades the atmosphere, the bird calls hushed,
and nature waits

a crack of thunder heralds the
approaching storm
the lightning flashes far across the sky
and now
the mighty torrents whip the spray
of ages through my stinging eyes

I clutch
the fragile thatch that tears away
I grasp for nothing, all is gone and left behind
the wind, a mighty power lifting me
to dash on stones, I fear
my life is gone

is there no rescue?

here in the dark, the lash, the cold, the old primeval fear,
I stagger like a drunken fool, no path
to guide my feet
stumbling night


a hand, a strong arm around me
leading me forward
firm pressure guiding, here
a sheltering cave
concealed with bushes, part them, come within

a tiny space in the storm, firm dry sand
beneath my battered body,
lay me down and breathe, deeply, breathe again
He is here, beside me
rest in the comfort of his warm embrace
arms around me, holding me close
He is here
and will never leave
He loves me so
my loved one, my champion, my strong protector
loves me so
and will shelter me in every storm
He will never let me go
Or take His loving presence from me

Beyond the storm
and into the quiet light
of resurrection
My rescuer walks with me
He loves me so

His name

is Jesus.

copyright Jo Collett 2010

( A few years ago I began to experiment with what I term "wordwalks" - narrative verse describing a situation or journey. These were  designed for visualisation and meditation to assist in distracting the mind away from pain or to provide an image to concentrate on in a hospital room. The idea was a result of my own experiences with cancer.)


How she loved the wild beaches -
Golden scythes of sand where loneliness questioned
and solitude answered
Shell gatherer, garnerer of driftwood
and stones that the waters relinquished
Cliff-dweller, woman of wind and spindrift
Her companions the wheeling gulls
Sun her lover

There in the depths where blue water touched horizon
Great whales came in the night like ships passing
Singing and singing again their discordant harmonies
Beyond the breakers
Whales turning in moonlight, giant shadows of the unknown
Calling her silent witness, water to earth and beyond
To the jewelled sky
Night of the whalesong

Yes, he had called her a whale, man of the shrapnel tongue
And razor eyes
Yes, she had known of the welts that a word could yield
Let him drown himself in his murderous lies.

She was dancing in noonday sun at the water’s edge, beckoning
the deep reaches, gulping great breaths of salt spray to exhale
her memory. Let the shallows encompass her
Mermaid lady, she of the seaweed hair and fish tail deftly propelling
her buoyantly
Huge waves cradle her singing her siren song, drifting and turning
She calls
Her song to the whales

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Visitors/ Beach Haiku


Searching an azure ocean, light
dancing over the calm waves, waiting
we scan the far horizon, mirages
inhabit our dreamtime, calling the return
from depths unknown

a flicker, a shadow, catches our breath
as we conjure the images, was it only
a wish, unfulfilled of that longed for connection
the cry unheard
that we might mark your passing

and there – like a fountain, the surface broken
a spurt of joy
and a black tail, rising, turning
to thrill us with the wonder
of your being

welcome, mighty whales, we greet 
one another
with smiles and sorrow
for you, swimming freely in your innocence
have harpooned our hearts

it's hard to photograph whales! - taken from 6th floor apartment balcony with a 48x digital zoom, Coffs Harbour Oct 2012.

Beach Haiku

the sea shares secrets
whispered to the passing gull
written on the sand

the path leads onwards
shadows lengthen on the shore
October evening

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Magic Shoes

Growing up in England, as a child in the 1960’s, comic books were an important part of my life. My sister and I would receive our pocket money and walk to the local shop on a Saturday morning to buy our comics – she to purchase her weekly copy of “Bunty” whilst I bought “Princess Tina”.  These comics had ongoing serial stories which we enjoyed. Occasionally there was a “free gift” such as a plastic ring or faux pearl bracelet which was an added delight. Christmas gifts always included the annual for that year. Reading a multitude of genres was and still is a great joy in my life.

A story that has always stuck in my mind from those comics, (or an annual, I can’t remember which – perhaps someone reading this can identify?) concerned a pair of magical ballet shoes.

A young struggling ballerina is given a pair of magical ballet slippers which, when put on her feet, enable her to dance superbly. She quickly rises through the ranks to become a famous ballerina, performing on stage to tumultuous acclaim. However, in the process she becomes proud, and arrogant, and cruel to those assisting her. One evening she walks into her dressing room to prepare for her performance.

“Where are my shoes?” She asks her assistant.
“Those old things?” is the reply. “They were so tatty and worn, not fit for a fine ballerina like you. I threw them in the rubbish bin!”

The prima ballerina puts on another pair of shoes and proceeds on stage. To her horror she can only dance as well as she first did in the corps de ballet. She is booed away, her career finished.

“It was the shoes all along.” is her final lament.

The story concludes by telling the readers to keep their eyes open for a pair of tattered ballet shoes. If you find them, they will make you dance like an angel!

I’ve no idea who wrote that story, so I can’t give credit where it is due, but whoever did so, like the fairy tale writers of old, was obviously a gifted writer, using a simple story to demonstrate a profound truth. After forty years, the little girl who enjoyed it in a comic book is now a woman who still remembers it.

Those of us in Christian ministry don’t have a pair of magic ballet slippers. But we do have the anointing of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Parakletos, the One who comes alongside, the third form of the Trinity. It is God in us who empowers us to be His witnesses in this fallen world. We need to make sure we don’t start apportioning His publicity to our selves. The glory is His alone.

May you enjoy the dance.  

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Gospel/ How do I become a Christian?

(This post is reprinted quarterly)

The Gospel

In the beginning, God, (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit), created the heavens and the earth and everything in it, including the first man, Adam and the first woman, Eve. God created humans to live in relationship with Him, but gave them free will to either obey Him or be disobedient. Satan, the devil, whom the Bible identifies as a fallen angel, tempted Eve to sin by disobeying God and she in turn tempted Adam to also disobey God. For their disobedience Adam and Eve were cast away from God’s presence and the wonderful life God had created for them and through them all their descendents were destined to be born sinful.

Yet throughout history there have been men and women who sought after God. Humanity became so depraved that God destroyed the earth with a global flood, but saved Noah and his family. Through Abraham God established the nation of Israel, who would be God’s favoured people. Moses, Abraham’s descendent, led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt and received the Ten Commandments and many laws of conduct. Because of the sinful nature of man, these laws were not kept, and a system of animal sacrifices was instituted to make atonement for the sins of the people. However, the people both individually and as a nation continued in a cycle of falling away from God and returning to Him.

During the history of the nation of Israel there were prophets who foretold that a Saviour would be born, to save humanity from its sinfulness. Their prophecies were fulfilled when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. Jesus is the only Son of God. He was sent to this earth and lived amongst us as a human, without losing His divine nature. In all things Jesus honoured and obeyed His Father, God. During His ministry on earth, Jesus performed many miracles and taught us regarding God’s nature and way of living. He was tempted by Satan but was without sin. He travelled with a group of disciples who were the foundation of the church – God’s people on earth.

In the same way that animals had been sacrificed to make atonement for man’s sin, it was the purpose of God to send Jesus to earth to become a total sacrifice, once and for all time, for fallen humanity. As was His destiny, Jesus was arrested, tried for heresy and crucified on a hill outside Jerusalem called Calvary. At the time of Christ’s death the curtain in the Jewish temple was torn apart, symbolising that the old system of God only being able to be approached by certain people and in certain places, was finished.

Now all could come into right relationship with God through the shed blood of Jesus, by committing their lives to Him in repentance and faith.

The Bible tells us that Jesus descended into hell and has total dominion over Satan and evil. On the third day Christ rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples and many others on earth. He gave his disciples the “great commission” to go into all nations and preach the gospel. Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven.

After Jesus ascended to heaven, God sent the Holy Spirit to the earth at Pentecost (ten days after Jesus’ ascension). The Holy Spirit is not only alive in the world, but indwells in those who have committed themselves wholly to God and gives such attributes as comfort, counsel, power and discernment. God's temple is now not a building, but the people in whom His spirit dwells. In the same way the church is not a building but the body of Christian believers on earth.

The Bible tells of spiritual battles between good and evil in both earthly and heavenly realms. It includes indications of great tribulation yet to come. We are told that Christ will return to this earth, the second coming, when He will defeat the evil forces raging in the world and will judge the living and the dead.

We who have committed our lives to Christ still struggle in our humanity with temptation to sin, and must choose daily to live in obedience to His will. We grow in our faith through prayer, study and reflection of God’s word, the Bible; and by meeting regularly in fellowship with other Christians.

How do I become a Christian?

The Bible tells us that there is only one way to relationship with God and that is through Jesus Christ:

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
“Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. (John 14:5-6)

To become a Christian, you need to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died on the cross to honour God and for the forgiveness of sin and that He rose again and ascended to His Father God.

You also need to admit or confess that you are a sinner in need of God’s forgiveness through Christ.

You then need to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Just as a wedding ceremony begins a marriage, so a prayer of confession and faith can begin, but is just the beginning, of a relationship with God. An ongoing relationship includes learning about God through Bible study; conversations with God through prayer, and encouragement through Christian fellowship in a caring church.
The following is a prayer which could be used to begin this relationship. You may wish to pray it alone, personally, or you may wish to discuss your decision with a Christian friend or pastor first to fully understand:

Dear Heavenly Father God,
I come before You acknowledging You as the only one God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank You for revealing Yourself to me. Thank You, Father God, for sending Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, honouring You and making a way for sinful people to come back into relationship with You. I acknowledge that I am a sinner. Please forgive my sin and cleanse me I pray. I receive Jesus Christ into my life to be my Lord and Saviour for the rest of my days. May You give me strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to live my life as a Christian. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour. Amen

May God bless you with an ever-increasing knowledge of His wonderful presence and endless love as you continue to seek and serve Him.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


The Oxford dictionary defines “trust” as “Firm belief in reliability, honesty, veracity, justice, strength etc.” Throughout our lives we learn to trust or distrust, according to the experiences we have with others. At one end of the spectrum, we can have absolute, unfailing, 100 per cent trust in someone or something; at the opposite end we may find an attitude of cynicism and suspicion.

We trust our husbands and wives with our well-being. Children trust their parents to care for their best interests. We trust medical practitioners and hospital systems with our health, even our lives. We trust police and law enforcement agencies with the task of public safety. We trust politicians and government agencies to administer a country and its resources in the national interest.

Or we should be able to.

And we trust churches. (I speak here of the church visible – the local church institution.)

Or we should be able to.

A lot of trust is placed in churches. There is the assumption that what is practised and taught within a church is of God. People give many things to churches. They give commitment. They give time. They give volunteer labour. They give tithes and offerings. They do so sometimes without question, believing that they are contributing to the kingdom of God. Churches are also places where people share information about themselves of a personal nature and this too represents a great trust.

Fifty years ago, my parent’s generation held  respect for those in prominent public positions –police officers, the mayor of the town, the local minister, the family doctor, the businessmen who led the local chamber of commerce. Many of my generation do not. Why has this trust been eroded? Perhaps scandals always occurred, but today there is far more scrutiny of and publicity for those in public office.

A pastor I once knew used to talk about three major temptations facing those in ministry (and many other folk as well). They were “the gals, the gold and the glory.” Sexual misconduct, financial impropriety and lust for power and prestige were three areas where a life could be completely derailed.

The church is no stranger to scandals involving those three things. We’ve all heard of big names who have come crashing down, while the watching non-Christian world points the finger.

Yet in many cases, trust in a church is undermined in much less spectacular fashion. In my work in health we talk sometimes about “workplace culture” – how the accepted culture of a workplace can, over time, impact a service for better or worse. What is acceptable sometimes becomes the norm. If we begin to cut corners or disregard procedures others may well do the same, which undermines the service as a whole.

Satan is always at work in churches, sometimes in spectacular fashion, but more often in subtle forms. We all have weaknesses which satan is at great pains to exploit. We are tempted in a multitude of ways - with sensual attractions, financial and other incentives, pride, hurt, desire for prestige and importance. Gossip and criticism are often not given the attention that they deserve in a church, for they can be white ants that completely undermine individuals and ministries. Apathy and failure to voice concerns (to the appropriate person only) also contribute to a passive acceptance of unacceptable behaviour.

Small cogs can turn the wheels of motion ever so slightly away from a direct course along the straight and narrow road.

But there is no need to be disheartened! God has overcome the forces of evil. He alone is the one and only trustworthy keeper of our lives and souls. People will fail us, but God never fails. We will fail ourselves and others, but He can use even our frailties, mistakes and hurts if we turn to Him in repentance and trust.

We are far less likely to stumble into error, both individually and as a church, if we honour God and cherish our relationship with Him first and foremost. In humility we need to remind ourselves of all He has done and continues to do daily. We read His word, the Bible, and He is revealed ever more deeply. We come to Him in prayer and He communes with us, encouraging and guiding. His Spirit, the Parakletos, the One who comes alongside, is our constant companion, our source of strength and power.

Involvement in a church is desired by God. (Hebrews 10:25). We trust in God for His presence and working in our lives. We trust our church to equip us and build us up in our faith in order to serve one another and fulfil our commission to reach out to non-believers with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God places His trust in us to serve one another in love and to be His witnesses in this world. In that sense it is a sacred trust. We have the responsibility to behave to the best of our ability in our church in ways which uphold this trust.

Dear Heavenly Father God, we give You all the honour and glory that is Yours alone. Thank You that we can trust You completely with our hearts, souls and lives. I acknowledge before You that there are many ways in which I have failed You in my church life and responsibilities. Help me to be worthy Father, of the calling which You have given me to be Your witness to those who do not as yet know You, as well as to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ through the power of Your loving Holy Spirit. I pray for my local church, as well as Your greater church body throughout this world, for Your anointing and discernment to resist the attacks of the evil one to undermine what You are doing to bring souls into Your kingdom. May we honour You and serve You above all other things. We ask this in the precious name of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen

Friday, 5 October 2012

The Cross

For Christians, the cross was a part of and now symbolizes the most significant event in human history. The Son of God uttered the immortal words “It is finished” and died on the cross.
What exactly was finished? Christ’s purpose on Earth was finished. He had revealed God in human form. He had glorified His Father and obeyed Him even to the point of death in the most horrific, excruciating manner. He had borne the sins of mankind upon Himself and made a way for suffering humanity, who had hopelessly attempted to be reconciled with God through endless rules and sacrifices, to finally be able to approach God and be in right relationship with Him. He had forever conquered the powers of darkness and forces of evil upon this Earth in the spiritual realm, even though temporary wickedness still remains until Christ returns.
Throughout history, the cross has been a symbol of our Christian heritage and faith. Some of the great cathedrals of the United Kingdom and Europe were built in the shape of a cross. Many church buildings have been constructed with a cross atop the highest point, so that everything is at the foot of the cross.
Personally I like to be in a church building which displays a cross up high, front and central. It signifies to me that we acknowledge that everything that goes on in the building – the worship, preaching, the lives of all who are there, are secondary and humbled before the cross. It is not about our own efforts. It’s about what Christ has already done. We do not worship the cross, we worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the One God in three forms who died on the cross and rose again and reigns; and the symbol of the cross reminds us that the only reason we can each come to the Father is through the price paid by His Son. 

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)

“At the cross I bow my knees
Where Your blood was shed for me
There's no greater love than this
You have overcome the grave
Your Glory fills the highest place
What can separate me now?”

“At the Cross” song and lyrics by Hillsong United

“When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.”

song lyrics by Isaac Watts

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (John 12:32)


I work in Community Health. We sometimes talk about what “community” means. Basically, community is the sense of belonging with others to form a mutually beneficial group. There is a great variety of different communities that people belong to – families, workplaces, social groups, sporting clubs, welfare organizations, churches and others. Many of us belong to a number of such groups and have plenty of opportunity to connect with others.

In my work I often meet with people who are very isolated socially, through sometimes their own choice, or through health reasons, lack of family connections, lack of available services or other reasons.

When I visit people throughout my working day, in a sense I am bringing community to them. I am part of their support network. They understand that they are by no means disregarded or forgotten by the society in which they live, but are valued and respected and have dignity and worth. I love my work and am genuinely interested in each client individually. Many are older people who have varied and interesting life histories and have made significant contributions to the country in which we live.

The church of Jesus Christ is its own community. We often think of the church as a particular place of worship and its congregation. This may be so in a very literal and limited sense, but the church as a whole is the community of people committed to Christ wherever they may be. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are not only those committed Christians in our own particular church building, but are the body of Christ throughout the world.

Just as I take community to others as a representative of the health service with which I am employed, so too, as Christians, we represent the Christian community throughout our everyday lives. We take Christ into our workplaces, schools, friendship groups, social activities. We are roving ambassadors for our King. There are many, many people in the western world who would not think of stepping foot inside a church building, but they have the opportunity to see Christ displayed through the power of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life.

As part of a Christian community, we can meet a stranger and straight away know that there is a connection there through our shared faith. Many times throughout my life and work I have been blessed by fellow believers. 

This afternoon in a bookstore I encountered a Christian brother who was struggling. We spent some time together talking and praying together for a solution to the problems that were greatly troubling him. This too is Christian community. Often we deliberately connect with Christian friends, but often too, God brings people together to support and encourage one another through His means and timing.

May you have a sense of being part of a caring community. May you also encourage  someone to feel included and cared about. God bless you.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A short story - After the Fall

            As the sun began to sink slowly towards the smudge of hills on the distant horizon, Adam turned and gazed backwards for the last time. Far away in the west lay that place which for a brief time he had called Paradise. The glossy-leaved cedars and the tall swaying palms filled with chattering monkeys and parakeets were no longer visible. There the breezes blew gently and the grass was soft beneath your feet. Now the ground was sun scorched and hard and no birds sang in the dusty, alien trees. The sky was darkening but where they had come from there was a strange bright glow flickering. The angel with a fiery sword stood guard over the entrance to Eden, barring forever their return.
            Sensing the air around him growing strangely colder with the darkening sky, Adam anxiously scanned the rocky cliffs ahead for some form of shelter.
            “Eve, hurry” he called over his shoulder, “There’s a hollow in the rocks ahead. We must reach it before nightfall.”
            Eve nodded numbly, too tired to reply. She stepped haltingly, her eyes fixed on the ground, following his footprints, not caring really where they led.
As they approached the rocky cliff Adam was relieved to discover that the hollow he had seen from afar was a spacious cave, with a clean dry floor. He moved aside several large rocks and spread the soft sand evenly with his hands. Eve had busied herself outside and now returned with arms full of dry grass on which to lie for the night.
“Here,” she said softly, holding out a handful of small red berries that she’d gathered during the day. He ate the strange fruit hungrily, its taste bitter and barely satisfying the gnawing feeling in his stomach.
“We must soon find some land to grow our food,” Eve added, with a voice filled with pain.
“There will be time enough tomorrow. Rest now Eve.” Adam watched as she lay down on the bed of grass, her eyes closing in exhaustion, asleep within a few seconds. He gently drew her fur skins close around her sleeping form with a feeling of great tenderness. She blamed herself for what had happened, he knew, and had not complained that he had driven them both so relentlessly today.
It was fear that had driven him – fear and shame. He had been tempted to be more than what God had made him. They’d had so much and still wanted more. Then he had blamed the woman. It was hard enough to bear his own punishment, but to see her suffering was even harder. They must both spend their lives attempting to restore the happiness of the other.
And where now was God? God had made their beautiful home, with its shining streams and dense forests and creatures of every kind. He’d made Adam to enjoy it, and Eve to be his companion. God had seemed so close to them in the Garden of Eden. Was He silently watching them now? Would they ever walk and talk together, as before? There was a pain in his heart far worse than the blistering pain in his aching feet.
Tomorrow, as Eve had said, they must look for land to farm. Otherwise they would wander around until they were dead. This land of thorny bushes and brackish pools was his to claim and till and hopefully produce enough to exist on. He hoped that there would be other crops beside the bitter berries. They must look for grains to plant.
Not only had the landscape changed, but so had the nature of all its creatures.  He’d noticed it all day as they plodded through the alien territory, leaving a lone trail of footprints in their wake.
In Paradise he’d been given the task of naming all the animals. He’d call each by name and they’d willingly come to him.
In Eden he would cry “Horse”, and that majestic beast would prance to him at his call, mane flying, and he would spring onto its bare back and gallop, his arms around its neck.
“Eagle” he would call , and the great winged bird would spiral down from its flight in the clouds, to alight on his outstretched arm.
Now when he moved towards a flock of birds they flew away quickly, shrieking in terror. Mice and rabbits that would eat from his hands now scrambled rapidly into the undergrowth. Why should they be afraid of him and Eve? Strange annoying insects pricked their skin and buzzed around their eyes and perspiring faces as they walked.
Worst of all, they’d stumbled into a clearing and discovered the most hideous sight, one that made Eve moan softly before Adam placed his hand firmly over her mouth and hurried her away. Tigress, that gentle, beautiful great cat, was hunched over the torn body of one of their lambs, feasting upon its carcass, her powerful jaws ripping into its carcass, her great striped head smeared with blood. She fixed a stare of hostility upon them, and growled menacingly. Never again would she walk beside him in the forest and swim with them in the rippling pools.
As Adam sat alone in the cave, looking out at the stars, just the memory of that moment was enough to make the fear rise in his throat again. He must make them a shelter to live in, with a fence or a ditch to keep the creatures away. They must always have a fire burning to protect them when they were asleep.
They must make something to protect their feet from the sharp, cutting stones. They must fashion some tools to dig into the hard earth, and containers to hold carry water from the stream.
A sudden noise from outside the cave interrupted his thoughts. He grasped the wooden stick that he carried. From now on he would always have to carry a weapon to defend them both, much as his heart ached at the thought of having to use it against any of the creatures that he had formerly loved and trusted. All his senses were alert. Eve breathed softly beside him.
A small, dark shape formed itself in the moonlight at the entrance to the cave.
“What is it?” Adam called hoarsely, raising the stick above his head.
The shape came slowly towards him out of the darkness – two pointed ears, a long, furry, wagging tail, a lolling tongue and two bright, affectionate, trusting eyes. Adam lowered his club and without hesitation dropped to his knees and held out his hand.
 “Dog!” he cried. Without knowing it his arms were around the dog and it was licking away the wet tears that rolled down Adam’s cheeks. Adam stroked its head and patted its dusty, matted coat. The dog had followed him from Paradise, tracking his footsteps throughout the day. No doubt it was as footsore and tired and hungry as Adam himself, and yet it had come after him.
The dog stretched itself and lay down in the entrance to the cave, guarding it. Adam too lay down beside Eve. As he closed his eyes in sleep, his lasting image was of his dog, resting with its head still alert and one ear cocked.
There was much to be done tomorrow, but he could sleep tonight, for he knew that God had not abandoned him.

 Copyright Josephine Collett 2012