So how did our yearning for Eden come to be? Since the time of Adam and Eve, we have yearned to live in perfect harmony with nature and to be in communion with God as through His Son, He promised us both. Along with this promise, He warned Adam and Eve that human nature was not capable of handling the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, the ancient serpent convinced them otherwise with a lie. From then on, Adam and Eve, along with the rest of us, have been barred from entering the Garden of Eden. Since then, we have longed to return to Eden.
Throughout history, this yearning has manifested itself in many ways. In fact, American literature is full of essays, stories, and poetry with the theme of returning to Eden. Thoreau has his “Walden Pond” – a detailed account of living for two years in a shack of his own construction on land near Concord, Massachusetts. While written long ago, the essay has not lost any of its power with his appeal for all of us to “simplify simplify simplify.” If anything, that appeal has only grown over time. Then there’s John Milton who immersed himself in the perfect world of Eden in “Paradise Lost” – a rich garden everyone sought, including Satan, who hoped to destroy it and in his quest to do so received directions from none other than a helpful angel who had no concept of evil. Finally, who can forget “East of Eden” – John Steinbeck’s novel that revolves around the theme of good and evil.
One doesn’t have to look very far or very long ago to realize the art world is full of masterpieces depicting the search for paradise too. Currently on exhibition at Boston University School of Visual Arts is a collection of photographs entitled In Search of Eden: A Work in Progress by the collective TRIIIBE. A collaborative effort among founders Alicia, Kelly, Sara Casilio, and Cary Wolinsky along with many artists, this series of photographs revisits the biblical creation story, the notion of temptation, and the eternal quest for Eden. Continuously evolving, this exhibit plays with cultural ideas of identity and values.
Then there is you and me. We too have a desire to return to our original state of being with this desire manifesting itself in our life choices. For this reason it is a formidable source of motivation for us whether positive or negative. In our desire to be empowered, we seek Eden in our work. In craving oneness, intimacy, and perfect love, we seek Eden in our relationships with those we feel a connection. In seeking peace of mind and enlightenment, we seek Eden by embracing beliefs and following a spiritual path. In seeking beauty, we seek Eden when we pursue creative activities. In seeking to numb the pain of life’s stresses, we find ourselves succumbing to an addiction or a bad habit, when we are actually seeking Eden’s joy. Throughout our life and in everything we do good or bad, our life choices reflect a deep, largely unconscious desire to return to the “Garden of Eden” to reclaim the joy and ecstasy we lost so long ago.
So what is it about Eden we really seek? It’s not for its real estate. Rather, what we really yearn for is a feeling of “home” within the beautiful paradise God promised us. In the truest sense, this “home” never really left us and is within our reach. It’s just that in using our gift of free will, we have made many life choices… one of which being to leave “home.” Tempted and caught up in the unknown, we lose sight of where we were. Losing our way, we then struggle to find our way back home again. Just like the father who embraces his prodigal son upon returning home, God too is waiting for us. At the entrance of the Garden of Eden, He is waiting to embrace us upon our return. It is only then we realize this that we not only come home to God’s warm embrace, but we also once again experience the pure joy and total ecstasy that is Eden.
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.