Garden Threatened

I live in a land not of my sires or kindred. Longing for home, I am stationed here both as servant and as soldier. Near where I rest my head at night is a garden, fair and pure. In it lives a family fair and pure, a matriarch of beauty and dignity, and children of laughter and delight. In this garden I find peace and warmth, though the land surrounding is strange to me. Well-kept, full of light, the garden is heavy laden with fruit, good and drippingly sweet.

Tonight I think of that lovely garden and the family therein with a sad, heavy heart, as I am freshly reminded of the nearby and threatening presence of the Town of Vice. It is situated just across a small stream from my beloved garden. Tonight, returning from a brief journey in the service of the King of the land, I passed directly through Vice. Its menace was plain as I crossed lanes and boulevards of Lust and Temptation. Meant to be joyful and fair and modest, half-naked and hollowed women looked to me. Though the night was black and many asleep, they brazenly beckoned me to come to them and be devoured. Too often I have found myself drawn by the siren songs of forbidden women; yet tonight I was granted clear sight and keen hearing, to recognize the call for what it is, the call of death.

Many years ago my King, good King that He is, sat me down and gave me this instruction:

“Keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.

For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.

She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you. I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.”

With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.

And now listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.”

It is these words I recall tonight as I think on those beings who have but remnants of womanhood left to them. Should-be-maidens adorning the earth in light, they are voracious, like carnivorous and putrid flowers seeking man-flesh to devour in Venus traps. They will never have their fill, until every last subject of the Righteous King has joined them on their foolish dance to damnation. And, sadly, they are but some who dwell in the Town of Vice, whose inhabitants are all united in their outward, expansionist, destructive pursuits.

Only one stream divides this place of darkness from my garden. The stream is easily forded, crossed often by soldiers of the King as they carry out his bidding. It shines and sparkles, day and night, but it is no protective wall. The garden grows, exposed, perilously in the intended path of destruction, trampling, and consumption.

Freshly troubled, I have already this night sent my petition to the King. Though the Vicelings have not loyally bowed the knee to him, they are no match for his unrivaled power, only remaining as a scar on the land by his permissive will, according to his deepest of deep wisdom that always knows what most gloriously advances all the best aims. My earnest plea is that he would keep them at bay, that the Town of Vice would not expand beyond the stream, that the people and plants of the garden would grow strong and beautiful, unassailable by the darkness, immovable in their allegiance to the Lord of people and plants, that, when it is time for those children of laughter and delight to leave the garden, they would do so as those who labor with me for the King, that the beautiful, dignified matriarch would continue to tend the garden with joyful song on her tongue, and that, if it would please the King, and be wise in his eyes, He would make the Viceling harlots pure maidens in his service, cleansed of their vile filth and wicked ways.

This is my petition.

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