Their greatest risk

Long ago when the world was young, the Three Deities prepared themselves to create their magnum opus, the human being. They spent many weeks brainstorming his maximum potential and ability. For hours they sat together at the drawing board sketching his features, the divine and glorious gifts. They gave him physical strength and emotional tenderness, spiritual awakening and the love of life. They gave him beauty. They gave him the gift of imagination: the ability to see things as they are not yet. They gave him intelligence, strategy, mobility, communication. And when they had made him nearly complete, and as like themselves as they dared, they sat down for one final meeting.

How much damage can the human do? they asked themselves. What boundaries must we set for him?


We will start with Roots, said one of the Three. He will never be able to quite escape himself, or his father, or his place of birth. He will have his mother’s nose and his grandfather’s temper. In all his learning and his capacity for change, he will never be able to perfect himself out of these things. They will follow him through life.

That is good, agreed the Second. And to that I will add the gift of Need. He will spend one third of his lifetime sleeping. Each day, several times a day, he will have to stop whatever he is doing to relieve himself, and to eat. Next to Need I give him Dependence. He will be unable to produce everything his life requires—if he raises bees for honey, he will need milk from his neighbor’s cow, or wheat for his bread. And though his soul will survive through times of loneliness, he will crave the society of his kind. He will seek them out, wherever he finds them. He will desire to work with a team, to sleep with a lover, to talk with a friend.

As for Myself, said the Third, I will grace him with Lifespan. When he is small and frail, I will pad his days with limited capacity and let him grow slowly into himself. In the beginning he will only be able to sip and to sleep and to yell lustily for his mother. Gently he will mature to full stature and claim his manhood, but when he has lived longest and is growing wisest, I will begin to remove his functions, perhaps in the night while he sleeps. He will not be able to think as clearly, or to hear as well. It will take him longer to move from place to place. He will forget what he once knew, and remember only the simple things from long ago. This will be my cushion at his ending, to protect him from falling over the edge of wisdom into Lucifer’s folly.

The Third thought for a moment, and added, Last of all, I give our man the gift of Mystery, the non-transferability that will mark his race. Though he will be a gifted communicator, he will never be able to fully pass on to another person the learning of a lifetime, nor yet the emotion of a single moment. He will bring that treasure unopened beyond the grave to Us.

So the Three spoke among themselves, as the human lay immobile on the marble before them. Then each looked a final time into the eyes of the others, and read there the willingness to take their greatest risk.


And they leaned over, and blew into his nostrils the breath of life.

When my husband read this story, he asked a fascinating question. “So. How many of these gifts do you think were original design, and how many were a part of the fall?” What do you think?

Do you have limitations you are grateful for?

And just FYI: This is not a baby announcement. The photos are from when my nephew made his first appearance in the world.

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Lucinda J
8 years ago

Oooh. So beautiful. Mystery–my favorite paragraph, mysterious and true.

8 years ago

I liked it all except the part where the little guy was given his grandfather’s temper.

8 years ago

This is a tear jerker and a thought provoker. Excellent.
Mary Yoder

8 years ago

One question yet. This is your original writing, correct? Wow. Genius.
Mary Yoder

8 years ago

I like: “to sip, and to sleep, and to yell.” 😉

Growing old would be part of the fall, don’t you think? At least, the losing your mind part!

I don’t like limitations, but I’m glad God is able to redeem those things. And I have to admit, there’s beauty in things like Need and Dependence. It’s all part of the Mystery.

8 years ago

(That was me sighing after reading such a satisfying and beautiful post by Shari.)
I’m too lazy to answer those questions at the bottom, though. But thank you for writing. <3

8 years ago

I’ve always been curious… just exactly what was man like before the fall? What all changed afterwards?

A lot of these limitations may be the result of the fall, but this just illustrates the fantastic way God can take anything and make something good, beautiful, or useful out of it.

8 years ago

What a delightfully crafted piece of writing, Shari. Beautiful. I’m glad, when I stop and think big-picture, that I must depend on others. I would tend to get very isolated and narrow-minded if I didn’t.
I laughed right out loud about your dad’s comment!

8 years ago

That was awesome. And your Dad’s comment made it even better. (I have to say I have never seen any temper displays on his part.)

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