What and Where is Eden? As narrative about creation tells it in the Book of Genesis, God creates Eden as a home for Adam and his life partner, Eve. Looking down on the wonder and beauty that is this great paradise, God is very pleased. Loving Adam and Eve as much as He does, God entrusts them with the care of Eden along with its magnificent gardens. God’s only commandment to them is … eat fruit from any tree in the garden, with the exception of one – the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The rest, as they say, is history. The two eat the forbidden fruit, come “to know good and evil,” evidenced by an awareness of their nakedness and a whole host of others vulnerabilities. If that is not bad enough, God finds out, confronts them, judges them for disobeying Him, and ultimately expels them from Eden forever, with neither able to partake from the Tree of Life again Since then, God has Archangel Uriel with an omnidirectional “flaming sword” guarding the gates of Eden , preventing current and future generations from entering into it.
So where is this magnificent Eden exactly? Over the years, there have been a number of claims as to the actual geographic location of Eden and its magnificent gardens. Most of these accounts, however, have little or no connection to the text of Genesis, which places Eden among four rivers – the Pishon, the Gihon, the Tigris, and the Euphrates. This places Eden somewhere between Najaf and Kufa in the Middle East.
While this is the biblical and the most common perception of Eden, many of us – myself included – also have our own version of Eden. Not the unattainable variety, mind you, lost thanks to Adam and Eve’s misdeeds, but rather the kind of paradise in which we still have a chance to return. From this vantage point, many view Eden as any place where we find beauty and wonderment such as Letchworth Park, the Grand Canyon, Longwood Gardens, or even Niagara Falls. To others, Eden is a metaphor for people within whom we find love and acceptance – our friends, co-workers, parents, siblings, children, spouses, or clergy. Still there are others who believe Eden is an alternative way of life that naturists, vegetarians, and those sharing communal living with an extended family espouse. Then there’s the paradisaical state of mind, a change of attitude resulting from an epiphany, a near-death experience, or a life-altering event.
Tragically, like Adam and Eve, it often takes loss to discover and appreciate the abundance we have been given. For example, in my search for love and acceptance, I became so anxious at one point that I no longer saw or appreciated God’s abundance; nor did I live or enjoy the life He graced me with as a sign of His love. In fact, it was not until I hit rock bottom that I realized just how much I abused life’s gifts –mine and that of others – rather than take care of His Creation. What was rock bottom? For me, it occurred over a period of a year. During that time I was betrayed by and ultimately ended a seven year, often tumultuous, relationship with a man with whom I loved very deeply. Shortly after, work became scarce, bills piled up, savings dwindled, and I was on the verge of losing my home. It was only when I humbled myself enough to turn over myself and my troubles to God and made a conscious decision to amend my life from that day forward that everything in my life started to change for the better. That’s when I found Eden in a place, a person, a lifestyle, and state of mind. Eden is Holley’s Glen Falls… a place where I feel most serene, a place where I reflect and pray, and where I feel closest to God. Eden is an incredibly wise and loving man with whom I have found unconditional love and acceptance. Just as my last relationship was ending, God placed Justin in my life to help me through the despair. Just as I was on the brink of losing my home, Justin offered his love and resources. Just as I felt alone in the world, Justin showed me the way and the Holy Spirit filled my heart. Before very long, I started to believe in myself and my potential, pursue dreams I did not know possible, and most of all… embrace the possibilities. Eden is a change in lifestyle. Married in spirit, if not in name, Justin and I have blended our families to create a larger, more loving one. Finally, Eden is a shift in mindset, away from the dark and the negative and towards a positive one full of light. Admittedly, this is something I am still working on to perfect.
So what and where is Eden? Eden is the home in which God wants all of us to return. Not just a physical place, Eden is a state of mind, the contentment felt when we claim or reclaim what we miss, long for, or lost along the way. Eden comes to us in remarkable ways when we connect or reconnect with our selves, our dreams, with the people we met, ignored, or left behind on our way to somewhere else. Eden is also a lifestyle we desire, but may have left behind, pushed away, or overlooked in our attempt to fit in. Most of all, Eden is wherever you are, within your reach, often found where you forget to look, and where unconditional love and acceptance begins…within your own self.
Remember … touch a life today “The Little Way” by following the lead and need of others. Also, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my community, knew…”, then be sure to visit White Light Communications at http://www.tothewhitelight.com.