In disobedience to the Will of God, the Mischievous Woman plucks an apple from the forbidden tree, polishes it on her bare arm, takes a big bite, hands it to her boyfriend. Suddenly, the garden changes. There are big black beetles in the shrubbery, wicked looking fish in the pond, snakes in the hedgerow. When her boyfriend bends to pick her a rose, she playfully slaps him on the tush, and he pricks his finger on a newly grown thorn, and pouts. She becomes aware of night and day, the passing of seasons, the joys and imperfections of human flesh; feels the sting of November cold and the warmth of April sun; senses mystery all around her; begins to ask inconvenient questions.
Quickly evicted for violating the terms of their lease, the lovebirds take up residence in a less scenic location. They get drunk on apple cider, worship trees, knock boots in moonlit caves. Pretty soon they have a brood of children, brought painfully into the world. Wayward Children. Loud, awkward, snotty-nosed, wasteful little children. Children who play with matches, draw all over the walls of the cave, tie up the phone lines, stay up late, paint their faces, make explosions and nasty smelling potions with their chemistry sets, will insist on learning things the hard way, refuse to clean up their rooms, don’t know that they should be seen and not heard, have no respect at all, ask inconvenient questions.
Soon enough, these rugrats are replaced by succeeding generations of children – no less objectionable and irritating in their own ways. They are Too Big For Their Britches and Too Clever By Half. Like their first ancestor, the Mischievous Woman, they get themselves into no end of trouble, to the point where it must be sometimes wondered whether they will ever be able to make their way in the world, or avoid extinction.
Somehow, though, they seem to stumble by. And, like all children, it must from time to time be admitted that they do have redeeming qualities. Some of the little blighters actually turn out to be quite astonishing. They invent things like sundials and telescopes and flying buttresses and short-wave radios. They do well in math class and dance school. They comfort each other when sick. They learn to play the violin, put on plays, and walk on the moon. Having an innate tendency to sing sappy songs and fall in love, they have children of their own, whose children, or children’s children, may or may not be a little wiser than themselves.
Nothing’s guaranteed, except the inevitable asking of question after question after inconvenient question. Amen.