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IN THE BEGINNING
Let. There. Be. Light.
With these four words, God began to create everything that ever was or ever will be. He hung the sun, moon, and stars in the skies. He painted the light and the darkness. Filled the oceans. Carved the mountains. The true Biblical story of creation and Adam and Eve unfolded. Yet, there remained a fantastic tale, or the icing on that story, no child heard ... until today. This untold tale begins on the fifth day, when God created the very first of His flying creatures.
The Creator, God, lifted His arms, and a sound like thunder clapping with the wind rang from His mouth. All the trees bowed under His roaring breath. Moments later, two small creatures dressed with white feathers appeared in the sky. One cooed. One chirped. Each landed on the Creator's outstretched arms.
"Yes, friends," God said, "I am happy to see you too. A very special mission awaits the two of you."
They watched God create other birds, sea creatures, and every living thing, filling the earth from high in the sky to the bottom of the oceans.
"I am Creator of all, and I love you," He winked at them and nodded, "more than you could possibly understand. You may call Me Father."
On the sixth day, the twosome perched in a beautiful tree. Poking their heads out of their cozy nest, they watched God scoop up a handful of dust from the ground.
The male cocked his head sideways and cooed, "What is He doing?"
"I don't know." She whispered as she watched Father at work.
He chattered louder.
The female nudged him with her wing. "Shhh!" God held the dust in His hand and closed His eyes. "Let Us make man in Our own image."
The curious one inched closer to his mate. "Can we do that?"
"I don't think He means you and me, dear," she said and smiled as she brushed his beak with her wing.
"Ba ... but ..." The male mumbled on with a mouth full of feathers. "I don't even know what a man is, do you?"
The female rolled her eyes upward. "Look," she said and pointed to God.
He whispered loving words as He sprinkled the dust on the ground and created a man.
The male bird's eyes bulged and his beak fell open.
All creation fell silent, including the male bird.
And God said, "This is very good."
Next, God planted a beautiful garden. He placed the man and all the animals in it. Calling out to His two flying friends, He said, "The time has come for your work to begin. First, lead all the animals, two by two, to the man I named Adam. Then he will name all of you."
The bird flapped his wings and cooed, "I can't wait to get my name!"CHAPTER 2
FLUTTER AND WHO?
The male bird zoomed around the garden and gathered all the animals.
Adam studied the endless line of creatures big and small. He clapped his hands and shouted, "Wow, good job little guy! I will name you and your mate first. I'll call you doves. Your names will be Flutter and Coo, for that is what you do."
"Flutter and who?" the male bird squawked to his mate. "Do I look like a 'Coo' to you?"
"Yes, you do." Flutter sang with a giggle.
Coo stomped his feet. "I wish I wasn't named first! We should have waited at the end of the line until Adam got really good at this naming thing."
Flutter waved away the cloud of dust while waddling behind him. "Darling, the name Coo is perfect for you. Ah-ah-ah-choo!"
"Easy for you to say. Flutter is a cute name. How important does Coo sound to you?"
"Remember, God has a very special job for you, Coo. He called it a 'mission.' Adam is giving all of the animals perfect names — especially you."
"Yeah, I get it. A perfect name for a chubby dove like me. Right?"
Coo turned to a pair of wooly animals waiting behind them. "Good luck with your names," he said. Then he flew out of line.
"Wait up, Coo." Flutter took off behind him.
The two wooly ones raised their front legs in the air and stuttered, "Baa-baa-bye Coo."
He flapped faster. "Stop calling me Coo!" His mind raced ahead. I know what I need to do. I'll fly to the end of the line and get a new name. With so many animals ahead of me, Adam won't ever remember me.
Coo reached back, grabbed one of Flutter's wings, and franticly zoomed toward the end of the line, towing her behind him.
Flying past an endless blur of trees, Coo saw the gigantic waterfall in the distance. He lost altitude. Scores of animals leaped, jumped, and ducked down to stay clear of the two crazy flyers.
"Slow down, Coo. You're messing up my feathers. And watch out for that big brown beast."
"Look out below," he yelled as he zoomed over the huge animal and zipped between trees.
"Something smells awful back here," Flutter said.
"It wasn't me."
"Oh no! Look out for that tree-eeeeee!"CHAPTER 3
LAST IN LINE
Coo's wing brushed a smooth leaf of the tall banana tree. "Hang on, Lovie, I'm sliding down for a bumpy landing. Whooo-Wheee!"
They bounced, tumbled, and landed with a loud T-H-U-M-P.
Finally, Flutter opened one eye. "Get this mushy thing off me."
Coo lifted half of a ripe banana off Flutter and tried to smooth her rumpled feathers with his beak. "You look beautiful," he cooed. Flapping his wings, he asked, "Wasn't that fun?"
"Fun?" Flutter wiped one of her sticky wings across his beak. "You call that flying? Taking me on a crash landing was not fun."
Coo licked his beak. "This is delicious."
"No, Coo. I've been trying to tell you. Something really stinks here!"
* * *
A strange creature slid under a pile of banana leaves, unnoticed. Its brightly-colored scales faded and glass-like eyes closed. It blended with the surroundings as it willed.
As it poked its scaly head out from under a banana leaf, its forked tongue darted in and out. A smell like stinky pond water came from its mouth and intensified when it saw Coo. It slipped a little closer to the doves and quietly sneered, "Already goofing off on the job, Coo?"
"Sssooo, the Creator chose two dimwits to help with His plan for man. Well, my plan isss better than Hisss! Your crash landing was close, but not nearly as bumpy as your next one. Soon I will be the gardener's only helper. And soon, Coo, this mission will seem like a bad dream — and nothing more. The Father will want to forget your silly name! He should have chosen me."
* * *
"Coo, was that you?"
"Was what me?"
"That 'sss' sound. And again, that awful smell."
"Oh that sound. I thought it was you."
"Me?" Flutter squawked.
Coo wiped his wing across his head and grumbled. "Um, it sounded a little like you."
"And the horrible smell?"
Coo shrugged his wings. "Not me."
Flutter cocked her head sideways and looked around before she whispered back to Coo. "All the named animals are celebrating. The others are waiting in line. The 'sss' sound was not me. And, the stinky smell was not you. So, who or what was it?"
Coo looked back at the banana tree and pointed to a few animals. "Maybe one of them needs a bath," he said and winked at Flutter. "Let's get back in line. I need a new name. We're almost at the end."
They quickly waddled away from the stinky place.
Coo froze in his tracks when he heard a loud roar. "Wow! The big guy finally got his name," crowed Coo. "Leroy. Now that's a great name."
"You don't have a clue what kind of animal he is, do you, Coo?"
Coo clawed at his head with his foot. "I forgot."
"Well, Coo, Leroy is a good name ... for a huge lion!"
Coo pointed to the ground. "And who is this jumpy little guy with the bulgy eyes?"
"Rib-bit. Hi friends. I'm Croaker, Croaker the Frog."
Flutter looked down and waved her wing. "He's adorable."
"Adorable?" Coo said, and he waddled away.
"Bwak, Bwak. Hello Flutter and Coo. My name is Beaks."
"Cock-a-doodle-doo! I'm Goozle."
"Eek, eek. Hello Coo," another screeched. "I'm Chimper, and my friend's name is Pansie."
"Lovely names," Flutter chirped.
"Bye," Coo grumbled. "You're all holding up the line."
Flutter turned to Coo. "Look over there, Coo. It's the cute woolly one we met when Adam gave us our perfect names."
Coo sighed. "I heard the jumpy green guy say he's a lamb. Adam named him Josh. He's nice."
Flutter patted Coo's head. "And so are you. Hey, look over there." She pointed. "It's the big beast you almost crashed into. His name is Cuddles. He's a bear."
"Cuddles? Arrr, arrr, arrrk! That's hilarious!"
Flutter tugged his wing. "Really, Coo? Who's holding up the line now?"
"Shhh, it's our turn," Coo said. "Here we go!"
Adam smiled when he saw this last pair of creatures come before him. "Coo, Flutter. It's great to see you again. Now all the animals have names. Good job. Time to celebrate!"
"Er, great," Coo replied, too embarrassed to complain about his name any further.CHAPTER 4
MAN AND WOMAN
"This is so exciting! Listen to the barking, whistling, and snorting," Flutter cooed.
Coo cocked his head sideways. "And the water splashing and the wind singing."
"Look," Flutter said as she rubbed her beak against Coo's head, "our Father is sitting alone at the water's edge."
Coo looked and frowned. "He's not celebrating?"
The doves flew to the center of the garden. After landing in their nest, Coo nuzzled close to Flutter. "I thought we did a good job, but I guess I was wrong." He buried his head under his fluffy chest feathers.
Moments later, the Creator's voice echoed throughout the garden, "It is not good for man to be alone ... alone ... alone."
All creation became still. Well, almost.
Flutter jabbed Coo's side several times, and Coo woke with a snort. "Owww! What?"
"Coo, what are you doing?" she anxiously chirped. "God said it was not good for man to be alone."
Sometimes I do my best thinking ... ahhh ... with my eyes closed. And Adam's not alone, he's got me. Er, us."
The doves watched God walk with Adam to the center of the garden and place him into a deep sleep at the base of the Tree of Life. The Father painlessly took one of Adam's ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. From that rib, the Creator God, made a female.
Coo's eyes rolled upward, and he flopped down beak first.
Adam woke to see the delicate new creature. He wiped his palms across his pounding chest and jumped up.
* * *
"Thank you Father," he said.
The female walked toward a crystal clear pond.
Coo's eyes opened wide when Flutter burst out in song. Friends joined. The sound grew. A joyous symphony of celebration rang throughout the Garden.
And the Creator saw that this was very good.
Adam called out, "What are you doing up there, Coo? Did you see her?"
Coo shook his head and rubbed his beak. "Wow. Flutter, did you see ...?"
Are you okay?" Flutter asked Adam. Then, she chuckled and fluffed Coo's matted feathers with her beak. "And how about you, Coo?"
"Come on, you two." Adam gave a comical shout and touched his smooth chest. "See? I'm fine."
The doves flew out of the nest and landed on Adam's shoulders. Together, they moved toward God's newest creation.
"That one is different," Coo said and flew ahead. Darting between trees and tall flowers, he tried to land on the long strands of silky hair that flowed and bounced behind the female.
"Very different," Flutter chirped from behind them.
The female stopped near the edge of the pond and gazed at the flowers that hugged its shore. She let the warm water wash up over her feet. Soon, Coo landed beside her. He watched silently as she wiggled her toes and waved at her reflection dancing on the water. Then he heard God's voice.
"My doves," God said, "there is still one who needs a name."
Coo whistled to Flutter, "Who did we miss?"
Adam smiled at the mate God created for him but didn't move any closer to her.
"Oh," said Coo. Both doves frolicked and flew around her.
Gently taking a wisp of dark amber-colored hair in his beak, Coo tugged ever so softly so she would follow him to Adam.
The female looked at Adam's green eyes and giggled. "Your helpers are beautiful — and fun."
"Yes," Adam agreed and laughed at Coo as the bird landed on his forearm. "They are."
"I'm the fun one," Coo sang.
And Flutter answered with a low ooo-ooo, hoo, ooo-ooo, as she landed on the female's shoulder and nuzzled close to her cheek.
After a few moments, Adam kneeled down on one knee and picked a rose. "Father, she is perfect," Adam said, "like the purest flower in your garden." Coo spread his wings, hopped off Adam's arm, and swooped down to a nearby mound of moss. Flutter followed.
Then Adam reached out, gave his mate the rose, and smiled. "Your name is Eve."
Eve beamed as her hair lightly brushed the fragrant petals. "I will cherish it."
Coo and Flutter flapped their wings and tapped their feet on the damp grass.
Every living thing in the garden hooted, hollered, howled, and romped, roamed, and foraged.
Once again, the Father of all creation sat alone. But this time He sat atop a large rock that looked like a royal throne. And now, two rosy bumps plumped up on his cheeks, and a handsome glow spread across His face.CHAPTER 5
NO TIME FOR NAPS
"That's it. Back to my nap," Coo announced to Flutter when they landed in their nest. "All that introducing stuff is hard work. I thought the celebration would never end. Wake me up if anything important happens."
"But Coo ..." Flutter squawked.
God's voice softly bellowed through the garden again. "Coo and Flutter, remember, I have a very special task for you two."
"Yes, Father," they both replied. "Anything You ask of us, we will surely do."
God continued. "Since you were the very first of my flying creations, and Adam and Eve are the first humans, I want you, above all the others, to guide and help them in the garden so they may always know their way. Listen carefully. Never let them eat of the fruit of that tree," God pointed, "the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil."
"The tree of what and what?" Coo whispered to Flutter.
"Shhh! This is important."
"Well, I would have named it 'The Tree with Humongous Fruit Hanging from Every Branch.'" "Coo."
"I'm just saying."
Coo licked his beak and yawned before turning his attention back to the Father. "This sounds like a very tiring, I mean, important job. So tell me, do we get a nap in the middle of the day? I'd say right about now is the perfect — Ow!"
The sudden sting of Flutter's left wing sticking into Coo's side left him speechless.
Flutter said, "We'd be honored, Father. Wouldn't we, Coo?"
"Ow! Yes, dear. Er. Yes, Father," Coo said. "Thank You for giving us this great, rewarding — um — time-consuming task. Ow! Again with the wing. What'd I say?"
God shook his head and looked at Coo. "Thank you, My friends. Remember, I'm counting on you, Coo." And He left them nested in the Tree of Life.
"Wow!" Flutter sang out and twirled around. "Of all God's perfect creatures, He chose us to watch over Adam and Eve. Isn't that exciting, Coo?"
"Yes. Exciting." Coo mumbled and settled into their nest. "Good night."
After all, he thought, we are in the most perfect garden, and we have a very cozy nest in a tree the Father calls 'The Tree of Life.' What's the worst that could happen?
"This is fantastic, Coo! There's no time to nap. We have the most important job in the garden." She gripped his wing with her foot and yanked him out of the nest. Then, she looked toward the other tree God mentioned. "I wonder why He named it 'The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil'."
They flew toward the meadow, unaware of the sly creature at the base of the tree God warned them about — and blind to the smirk that spread across that serpent's face.CHAPTER 6
Coo slowed his flapping to a relaxing glide. "The garden looks amazing from up here. Look at all those berry bushes!" He held his wings straight and flexed. "I love eating ... I mean, collecting berries!"
"You love nuts and olives, too," Flutter chirped back to him. "Poor Adam should learn how to catch someday, because you always pretend all the food I toss down is for you."
"Snacking is part of my job. I'm just making sure the fruit is sweet enough for our gardeners. Besides, Adam and Eve love all the funny things I do."
"Yes, Coo, we all do."
Coo sailed ahead of Flutter. "Playing games isn't all I do. I guide Adam and Eve when they walk hand in hand down the pathways. Father calls it 'leading.'"
Flutter burst out chirping. "You swoop down, zip in front of them, and flap your wings in their face. Then they run after you. It's a game, Coo."
"Part of my job."
"Well, I know you also love to perch in our nest or any cozy branch to watch them sleep beneath the stars."
Coo sighed. "On soft beds of sweet-smelling grasses."
"Eve's favorite is the cushy kind that creeps close to the lazy river."
"Follow me," Coo said and landed on a tree with many twisted branches. "You can see everything much better from up here. Now we'll have a perfect view of the meadow and vineyard."
"Look, Coo," Flutter sang, "the love they share is as deep as the deepest river, as wide as the blue sky above, and as pure as the roses that spring up from the earth all around them. The blessings they have here are far beyond what their human eyes could ever see."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Gardener's Helpers"
Copyright © 2015 Joann Claypoole.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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