Four in the Garden

A Christian Fantasy about Spiritual Growth and Transformation

Christian - Fiction
338 Pages
Reviewed on 04/07/2015
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Author Biography

In 2004, Rick Hocker sustained a back injury that left him bed-ridden in excruciating pain for six months, followed by a long recovery. He faced the challenges of disability, loss of income and mounting debt. After emerging from this dark time, he discovered that profound growth had occurred. Three years later, he had a dream that inspired him to write his book, Four in the Garden. His intent was to illustrate one's growth toward deep communion with God and to share the insights he gained from the personal transformation that resulted from his back injury.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Cheryl E. Rodriguez for Readers' Favorite

Four in the Garden by Rick Hocker is a thought provoking account of man’s relationship with God. This beautifully written allegory portrays the forging of trust between Cherished and the Creator. Cherished is created and placed in the garden; from conception the Creator is there to guide, protect and serve him. Encouraged to explore his world, Cherished discovers friendship and adversity. Not every being that crosses his path is good, some are disguised, cloaked in a false light. Free will challenges Cherished, and temptation leads to separation and ultimately isolation. Cherished learns that his choices have consequences, mistakes are necessary for growth, “trust grows by trusting” and “true devotion is motivated by love alone.” Through it all, Cherished is transformed into a beloved Companion.

Rick Hocker’s Four in the Garden is a symbolic narrative bathed with spiritual meaning. It bursts with proverbial moral lessons, profound philosophical ideas, and Godly principles. It is a treasure chest overflowing with nuggets of truth. Hocker’s writing style is extremely figurative, imaginative and sensory; his descriptions entice the senses. The chapters are short and focus on a single topic, but also are in chronological order, portraying the dynamic growth of the main character. Four in the Garden is a first person account from Cherished’s point of view. However, at times the story is told through the voice of an omniscient narrator who objectively fills in necessary information. Four in the Garden is a refreshing narrative, full of Selah moments. It challenges the reader to search out their own soul, to discover their own personal relationship with their Creator. Four in the Garden is one book I will read again and again.

Ray Simmons

Four in the Garden by Rick Hocker is a thought provoking novel of how life might have looked and felt for the first man as he struggled to learn about the world, himself, and God. Mr. Hocker wrote Four in the Garden after recovering from a long, serious injury. He had time to think and it looks like he put some of his best insights into this spiritual masterpiece. Four in the Garden is written from the point of view of Cherished, the name given to this fictional Adam by his three teachers on his very first day in the world. This is the core of the story; that God made one man and gave him three angelic teachers to guide him in his journey of understanding. The three are Manna, Ennoia, and Aable. The three have very different and distinct personalities and their relationships and interaction with Cherished are described with precision and beauty.

Four in the Garden is a journey and, as in the best journeys, there are many lessons learned along the way. Chapters with titles like Birth, Firsts, Individuation, Discomfort, all the way to the last one, Friendship, give us a hint of the lessons Cherished will learn. Mr. Hocker has even given the web address of a site where discussion questions can be downloaded for groups who want to talk about some of the serious moral and spiritual issues encountered by Cherished and the other creatures he meets in this mythical place at the beginning of time.

Melinda Hills

Cherished is born of the earth, like man is of woman, and receives his consciousness to comprehend the immensity of his being and the love bestowed upon him by Creator. From this simple beginning, Cherished embarks on a journey of self-discovery in which love, trust and faith are the key components. Four in the Garden by Rick Hocker follows this unfolding revelation as Cherished, the only human on earth, meets the Creator in several guises – as three teachers who represent the innermost thoughts of Creator, the words of Creator and the works of Creator – as a large creature that likes to play and rough house, and as a human destined to help Cherished restore his connection with Creator. Confronted with physical and emotional trials, Cherished learns what it means to not only enjoy a relationship with Creator, but also to struggle with doubts and fears. Creator patiently teaches Cherished and carefully explains the consequences of making choices based on pride and willfulness. In spite of many assurances, Cherished is often frightened and filled with feelings of inadequacy, wanting to make his own decisions but not wanting to offend Creator. Will Cherished maintain the right attitude and stay close to Creator, or will other elements interfere and ruin the connection Cherished depends upon?

Loosely following the Christian concept of God and the fallen angels, Four in the Garden by Rick Hocker is a wonderfully told tale of finding and maintaining life in a Higher Power. Divided into 103 very short chapters, there are plenty of scenes that address most human emotions and feelings, both positive and negative. The spirit is portrayed as more important than the human form, but physical trials help shape the spirit and reassert the connection between the individual and the Creator. Very interesting concept! This is probably the best description of a personal relationship with a higher power that exists anywhere! On its own or with questions for reflection and discussion available through a website, this excellent book is a great resource for individuals or groups interested in understanding their own personal relationship with the Creator.

Kathryn Bennett

Four in the Garden by Rick Hocker is an inspiring book that takes you into the primordial world. One human has been created by God; a human by the simple name, Cherished. While Cherished has to work through his life and learn how to understand and trust in the Creator, he is given three teachers. They help to guide him through being selfish and self absorbed, through fear, doubt, and the process of dealing with creatures of great danger. In short, Cherished faces a life not unlike most of us and must learn the greatest message of all, the love of the Creator.

This is an interesting book from beginning to end, and it truly makes you think about a lot of different things. Cherished has a long journey from the beginning to the end of this book, a journey where he has to learn to have faith and trust in himself and the greater being. The lessons in this book can be applied to all of us; whether you follow the path of the Christian God or a different spiritual path, you have to trust and have faith in order to learn and grow. Author Rick Hocker has a good turn of phrase and manages to get this message across while keeping the book interesting and creating a fully fleshed out land of fantasy. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to start looking a bit more inward and needs some inspiration to do so. This book is an inspiration in many ways as well as being a solid, entertaining read.

Mamta Madhavan

Four in the Garden by Rick Hocker is a thought-provoking book with spiritual undertones that will help readers connect better with God and discover the meaning and connection they are longing for in their lives. Cherished, the human in this story, is guided by angels and other beings. Readers are taken on a journey of hope, triumph and adventures on their way to spiritual acceptance. The three teachers who guide Cherished teach him to understand and love God more amid all the hardships he faces in life; they teach him to make love his constant companion in life forever. The book is inspirational and enlightening.

The plot is original and the narration is detailed and descriptive, making the story very colorful, aesthetic and visual. The book is scenic and the unusual creatures in the story add to a surreal experience. The author gently shows readers how to view life and living without thrusting his views and opinions on them. The story encourages readers to believe in God and walk with Him always. All the characters in the story are well portrayed and they complement the main character perfectly.

The spiritual journey, along with the main character, Cherished, is very rewarding and helps readers delve into their inner selves, helping them become spiritually more aware and connect with their own spirituality. The creativity and visual delights in the scenes, along with the characters, make reading this book a rewarding experience. A very original story that is inspirational and uplifting with its unique plot and spiritual undertones.