Chapter 24


He was right. A table with white linen was set up under the linden tree. It was covered with platters of food from the garden. Gaia stood at the far end. On either side stood the rest of the family: Nicholas and Erdmuthe, Adam and Eve, Christian and Benigna, Cain and Abel. The chair at the end of the table closest to him was empty, as was the chair to its left. Standing behind the chair at Yahweh's right side was Jesus. Satan hesitated on seeing him. So did Jesus. It was Yahweh who took each by the hand and drew them together. Then he stepped back. Holding hands, Jesus and Satan looked into each other's eyes. Blinking back tears, they smiled at each other, then embraced, holding each other tightly.

"My brother," said one.

"My brother," said the other.

Then they pulled apart and went to their respective chairs on either side of Yahweh, who took his place and motioned for all to sit. He smiled at Gaia at the other end of the table, then winked at her. She smiled and winked back.

He held out his hands to his sons. They took his and, one by one, all joined hands around the table.

"This is our first meal together in the Garden," said Yahweh. "Let us give thanks."

He looked at the food on the table and addressed it directly.

"Sweet brothers and sisters whose lives we've taken to continue our own, we ask forgiveness for your deaths. We do not take your lives lightly nor needlessly. We use you to continue our own, and to do our holy work here in the Garden. So come, sweet children, come into us. Give us your bodies as well as your spirits. Come back to life though us. Live again through us. And we say thank you."

"Thank you," replied the others.

After a moment's pause, Gaia began singing, "Tis the gift to be simple, tis the gift to be free." One by one, the others joined in. The deep voice, the high voice. "Tis the gift to come round where we ought to be."

Around the table the voices joined in. The voices overlapped each other, each starting in its own time. Men's voices. Women's voices. Each adding to the whole. Counterpoint forming harmony.

"And when we find ourselves in the place just right, t'will be in the garden of love and delight."

Then, powerfully, they all joined together. "When . . . true . . . simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed. To turn, turn, will be our delight, till by turning, turning, we come round right." The hymn ended. Its resonance continued. They looked at each other, smiling and blissful in the silence. Then Yahweh said, "Let's eat! I'm famished."

So they did.