Friday, November 17, 2006

Remembering Eden

I have called this blog, “John One Five” after John 1:5, of course—“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not overpower it.” The underlying theme of the blog is holding fast to the Light in all circumstances. It is an aggressive statement of faith that there is always hope in every experience of adversity. Now that this blog has been up for a few weeks and I’ve written a dozen posts or so, I realize that the blog title is more accurate than I had imagined or anticipated in the beginning.

The first post, “A Little Bit of Green”, definitely had that theme, but as I glance through the others I have written, I see that all the others also did so in one way or another. I wholeheartedly believe that love is stronger than any loneliness, joy can triumph over all discouragement, peace can be found in any time of turmoil, hope exists in every circumstance, and light cannot be overpowered by darkness.

This conviction has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember, way back into childhood, and over the years has only grown. One expression of this confidence has been my enjoyment of the outdoors on a regular basis—even, or perhaps especially, in the cities and suburbs. “A Little Bit of Green” was an extreme instance of this, but I have become familiar with many places of delight (in Hebrew, Eden) in my own locale.

I know many parks near my home, and often go to them on days off; my monthly day of reflection; and occasional evenings, early mornings, or lunches on working days. The Fullerton Arboretum is one of my favorite places. There are also Hiltscher, Laguna Lake, and Hillcrest Parks in Fullerton, Parque del Arroyo Grande in Placentia, and similar oases of serenity in other local communities. Often I take my Bible, Office Book, and rosary and spend a half hour or so in prayer. Sometimes I take a picnic.

Once in a while, I find pleasure in taking someone with me who I hope will enjoy the great and small grandeur of a garden as I do.

Gardens do not have straight lines. These places have shadows, grass, and dark earth. Sunlight plays on leaves. One can hear a light breeze passing through the canopies of trees, and feel the warmth of rocks under the sun. Prayer is the natural language spoken in such a setting.

Even a wash adjacent to a shopping mall can draw my attention. Though it may have cement sides to contain any runoff from a rainstorm, at the bottom there are dry, yellow weeds clumped alongside water the color of strong tea. Dank and still as the water is, it still reflects sky, and there is splendor even in the weeds. The moss that grows in the stagnant place is a rich green

Most, but not all, parks are also accessible in the late evening or night. At that time, the silence is deepest. Moonlight, when it is present, alters the look of what is familiar during the day so that it becomes a portal of transporting delight. Prayer deepens into contemplation.

These places are very poor substitutes for Eden, but in my spirit I can draw a direct line from Eden to these oases of water, leaves, light, and enchanted gloom. Even our technological age with its abundance of buildings, concrete, asphalt, and noise cannot eradicate completely the ancient, racial memory of our spiritual origin.

Our sorry race may be cast out of Eden, but those who love the Lord always long for their true home. And in this world, God in his mercy places for us constant reminders of where we have come from, where we belong, and the hope of what will be when our great homecoming occurs.


Hannah Jolene said...

Parks are a good place to study too. God's creation is a good distraction and study break to look at and be uplifted and encouraged by. I hope that the parks that we do have left do not get eaten up by all of the new homes that are being put in around Placentia/Brea/Fullerton area.

Tim said...

You're making me want to move back to Oregon!

Ashley said...

What will heaven be like?

Nannerdoman said...

Alone in a park at night? Maybe a man feels safe doing this, but we're way too far out of Eden to make it a viable option for me!