WEEK 1: The Gardens of Life
“And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil… And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Genesis 2:8-9 and 15, KJV)
The Garden of Eden must have been a sight to behold. The utter joy to dwell not only with creation but also with the Creator Himself – could man desire anything more than this? In one moment of deception, however, humankind lost its innocence. Richard Rohr wrote the following: “They realised that they were naked and separate from the Source of their being. This is the delusion, the lie, and the ‘fall’ from original grace and innocence”.
It seems that ever since that day, mankind is on a quest to find this garden once again – that oneness, that unity, God in and with us. I have learnt from persecuted believers that whether in freedom or in prison, facing hardship or torture, they have discovered that any time or in any circumstance the ‘garden’ is right there, with them. It is not a far, distant place to which you have to travel.
One of the favorite songs of a persecuted brother while in prison was this one by C. Austin Miles: “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses. And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am his own…”
For you and me, there is this one place, this sacred almost-holy place that – when we go there – enables us to feel as if we can touch Christ. The truth is that God is in and with us, and we need not go anywhere special to be intimate with Him. We need not search for that ever-evading garden anymore. All we need do is to surrender to Him, be present in the moment and allow Him to restore to us once again that childlike innocence.