Paradise Green: Letters to My Dad
Author: Scott Cherry

Chapter 6
February 8, 2010

February 8, 2010

 

 

 

Dear Pops,

 

Time for the next installment of this epic son-to-father letter I’ve been working on. It’s been over a year now since I started it.  I hope you’re reading them. =)

 

Well, I told you about Cam’s birthday party, so no need to rehearse that for you.  Besides that Cameron and I have painted the wood trim of the skirt in the stairwell.  We’re getting close to project completion. Of course, I have about 10 more on the waiting list after that. …You know how it is.  Among other things, I want to put new vinyl on the stairs to the basement.  What’s on there now is in great shape, but it’s ugly.  JoEllen has wanted me to change that since we first moved in.  Speaking of Cameron, he has taken up chess.  Yep, a few weeks ago he taught me how to play, and he has since taught JoEllen to play too.  The kid is pretty good, even though I’ve managed to beat him twice. …Aubrey had a very busy week last week with finals, student-directed scenes and a singing competition. She puts a lot of effort into her classes and is doing pretty well. Ironically, last term Algebra was her best academic subject and she didn’t have any severe weaknesses.  She did fine on her exams and her GPA is up to a 3.4 now. …Cameron is doing exceptionally well, and they’ve bumped him up to pre-Algebra.  Everything seems to come easy for him so far.

 

Anyway, let’s move on to the main topic again, shall we?  In the last letter I wrote about the one law that Mr. and Mrs. Man had to obey to maintain favor with the Owner and Mastermind of Paradise.  Specifically, there was one place in Paradise that was reserved for the Master alone. Remember? Yet they violated that restriction and broke trust as well; they crossed the one line that they were not to cross.  And that act proved their true character. The main point now is to describe the consequences of that act.  But first, here are the two paragraphs from that letter rehearsing those circumstances:

 

"The Master had reserved a section of Paradise for himself alone.  This area was strictly forbidden to all golfers, and even to the Mans.  There was to be no trespassing whatsoever.  Yet he did not fence it off or build a huge wall around it; he simply trusted them. He instructed the Mans that they could go to any other part of the course that they desired to visit, whether to golf, or explore, or to develop the land. But they must not impose on his sacred privacy by trespassing in this section.  The penalty, they were told, was very serious and was spelled out in the law.  In fact, the penalty was death.  (Now, I know what you’re thinking, Pops. “That’s ridiculous and unfair!  It’s not a reasonable at all.  That’s hardly a serious offense, and the punishment should fit the crime.”  Am I right?  Well, that was my first impulse too. But to get our minds around this we have to think differently, because this was no ordinary scenario.  First, the penalty was not the kind of death one usually thinks about.  Rather, it was a kind of spiritual death that had other, more immediate effects upon their inner being such as fear and shame. The punishment was hard because the offense was grievous; it violated the very heart of the Master in a way that is hard for us to comprehend. It violated his trust and the terms of their relationship. And it exposed them to a kind of “soul-sickness” that they had previously not known, one that saturated their minds with discontentedness.)  Sadly, the allure of this one forbidden thing proved too strong for them, and they breached the boundaries of the Master’s sacred space.

     

"The nature of that space was that it was the Master’s private reserve, designed and developed by him and for him alone. It contained his personal laboratory with the secrets of Paradise, the exclusive proprietary knowledge of its geological and botanical wonders.  It also contained another small building with the Master’s original drawings and paintings of what Paradise should look like. These were very personal and confidential.  They were not “top secret” the way that military information can be, but they were not less sensitive.  This was also the Master’s personal sanctuary, the place he went when he wanted to meditate and dream about his next development, the place where his visions and plans were born.  It was intensely personal to him, and he simply trusted the Mans to respect this. What’s more there were experimental hybrid plants in the inner garden of the sanctuary that emitted mind-altering toxins into the air within the limited range of the sanctuary (kind of like in the movie called The Happening. Did you see that?  If not, you should.) The Creator had produced them and so had an immunity to them, but they were dangerous to others. These produced within the Mans a sort of rebellion, and an inclination to assume control of Paradise if it were possible.  Along the way their very dispositions changed so that they no longer desired to please the Creator, but rather they lived only to please themselves.  Already you can begin to understand the problem that ensued.

 

Were there consequences for the Mans’ trespass? Indeed there were. But they didn’t actually “get caught”. Still, as you know, some things are worse than getting caught.  For the sake of our story, the consequences that they brought upon themselves could take almost any form to illustrate the point, and there are a hundred ways that they could play out.  They weren’t penalties or punishments imposed upon them, at least not at first. Rather, they were more like “Karma”, the law of cause and effect or of sowing and reaping. If you go bushwhacking through poison ivy you’re bound to get it. To be consistent, let’s suppose that the first thing they experienced was resentment.  “What kind of consequence is that?” one might ask.  Those who’ve ever been consumed with resentment can tell us best.  And it sometimes takes its full toll only after time.  

 

Their intrusion into the Master’s private reserve seemed innocent enough, if not for the fact that it was forbidden to them. They didn’t break any locks; they didn’t have to because there weren’t any, so they just walked right in. They explored the premises with a sense of indulgent curiosity they had never experienced before (but all of us have). They marveled at the uncluttered simplicity of the layout, and a serenity that seemed to permeate the rooms, instilling a sense of reverence.  As they explored the haven they didn’t destroy or vandalize anything, or steal anything, or rifle through the Master’s personal files, or hack into his computer, or leave anything out of order at all. In fact, they left barely any evidence that they had been there. But as they gently perused the Master’s personal belongings, they noticed a bowl of exotic-looking fruits that they did not recognize. These were the produce of the experimental hybrid plants that were growing in the adjacent garden (the ones that contained the toxins). With admiration and delight, they each took one and ate it, letting some of the juice drip to the floor. They didn’t eat them because they were especially hungry but rather because the fruits looked unusually delicious.  They were indeed delicious, more than any of the fruits they were used to, and they gave them great pleasure to eat. But they made them feel weird too—a little “hollow” and disoriented—as though they were losing touch with some part of themselves and their surroundings. (The fruits were not meant for human consumption, and their toxins had entered the Mans’ blood.) So as good as the fruits were the Mans were careful not to eat any more, for fear of that weird feeling and for fear that they would later be missed by the Master.

 

After about an hour they were “satisfied” with what they had seen, and they left (though the feeling was not really much like genuine satisfaction).  They did not find anything “top secret” or “bizarre”, or out of character. Well, nothing except for the fruit and some strange plants. And if not for the fascination that comes with exploring a forbidden place, it was actually quite plain, hardly what you would expect from the Master Developer of the world’s most exquisite golf course.  As they left they felt different than when they entered, somehow unsettled, and they wondered why they had been so irresistibly drawn, even to the point of trespassing and breaking trust with the Master.  They resented that about themselves and about each other. What’s more is that they resented the Master, but they weren’t sure why.  And now they loathed the idea of ever go there again, even if invited.  They disdained the place.  As they went through the rest of the day and went about their duties, they realized that their feelings were changing—about everything. They were troubled and fearful about the changes they felt, but they tried to shake them off as a passing sense of guilt. 

 

As the days passed, Mr. and Mrs. Man tried to justify themselves by reasoning that they hadn’t done any damage, and that their intrusion was a “normal” response to a “natural” curiosity that they couldn’t have been expected to resist.  Besides, what the Master didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him, they concluded. And so they tried to resume their responsibilities as though nothing of consequence had happened.  They were wrong. 

 

Their resentment grew into a sort of bitterness, and they found themselves feeling estranged from each other more and more. And each of them blamed the other for what they were experiencing. And that bothered them.  But what bothered them even more was their sense of estrangement toward the Master and toward their work in Paradise.  What had always been a purposeful and rewarding life as caretakers of the golf course became unsatisfying.  They no longer took pleasure in the creative aspects of their job, and they became unhappy.  They also found that they had lost the desire to groom and beautify the course that used to motivate them, as well as their desire to please the Master. And as much as they told themselves it would pass, it only became a deeper sense of discontentment for them.

 

Through all this they avoided contact with the Master who had always treated them with great respect and trust.  And when he tried to connect and spend time with them, they only avoided Him.  The more He made overtures toward them the more they distanced themselves from Him, as though the whole thing was His fault.  And their resentment for Him grew.  Given the obvious change in their relationship, it didn’t take long for the Master to surmise what must have happened, but the damage had been done.  The spiritual effects of their violation, and the toxins they breathed in from the plants, had altered their very nature and their disposition.  Such were the consequences of their deed.  I hope you see the seriousness (and the analogy) of the situation.

 

Well, that’s all for now, Pops.  I hope this all makes sense to you.  Have a great time in Florida.  Keep in touch while you’re there. We miss you and Lou.

 

 

 

 

Love,

Scott

 

 

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