Getting Back to the Garden

Sitting in the spa waiting room, I noticed a large book on the table next to me titled "Eden Restored". The botanical garden photograph on the cover was stunning. The book was filled with the most beautiful gardens found throughout the world.  I found myself being drawn into the pages as a lilac scented candle burned nearby, adding to the floral ambiance.

Each photograph was accompanied by a description and location of the garden featured along with a "how-to" article for creating a similar look in your space.

What struck me was the feeling of serenity that came over me simply by looking through pictures and breathing in the sweet aroma. There seems to be some kind of need within us to return to a "paradise", whatever that means by our personal definition.

If what I was feeling in that moment was based on a simulated reality, what must the original Garden of Eden have been like? Breath-taking in beauty beyond anything we have ever seen or imagined, it cannot be recreated by man (try though we may) because it was something we know nothing of; perfect in every way. It was an environment void of disease, shame, pain, corruption. Everything was new, fresh, clean, thriving, innocent, and pure. Every kind of fruit bearing tree was there. It was the perfection of organic produce.

Could it be that the longing within us to return to this environment is placed there as hint of what awaits? Reminds me of lyrics from the 1970 song titled Woodstock: "And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden..." What Crosby Stills Nash & Young didn't realize is that we are powerless to get "ourselves" back - but the way HAS been provided!

From the cross, Jesus lovingly said to the thief next to Him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:43). Why? Because that man humbled himself and asked for mercy from the sinless Son of God; "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" - hanging there next to him. That's it. He had no good deeds to report, no baptism, no regular visits to the synagogue, no payment of required denari, no praying the rosary, no daily confession, no knocking on doors. His one and only merit was a humble heart. For him, the ticket to Paradise was simply child-like faith. At that point, he became fully reconciled to God. Regardless of his sentence, was given a verdict of not guilty by the Judge of the highest court!

The Bible assures us that Paradise awaits all who take that same step of faith. Like the man mercifully delivered that day, we too can enter into an environment where the purest form of love dwells. Not of good that we have done but by grace alone. (Ephesians 2:8).


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