1 The Mystical No

Yesterday for almost fourteen hours I sat up high in the small cubic cab of a big red truck with a big young chocolate lab and a young man. All three of us yearned to be at our destination from the moment we started our journey in the darkness before the dawn through each of about one hundred thousand moments, one at a time. The trip was fraught with delays. There was the periodic need for fuel for the truck, and the dog, and the man, and me; there was rain and traffic, and there was a detour that took us thirty minutes out of our way when we thought we would have to run an errand—all of these frustrating delays increased the intensity of our desire to arrive.

What made the journey especially grueling was that the young man was grieving and during this long time in the small cab he presented a range of emotions from anger, fear, disbelief, to kindness, patience, and a pinch of wisdom. I felt as if I was on a tiny roller coaster inside a bottle. When after twelve hours we thought the end was near, the highway suddenly appeared to be so jammed packed with vehicles that we left it altogether and took the longer way through a small city until finally in new darkness, the truck, the dog, and the grieving young man and I arrived home where we were able to separate ourselves from one another and shower and rest in comfortable beds, except for the big red truck of course which, if it could feel, I’m sure would have been content to be still.

I wonder if this year the Lenten journey will be as arduous as the one I was on yesterday. Perhaps if it is I will be just as relieved to arrive at the destination−Easter. If I want Easter as much as I wanted to be home yesterday, and if the way to Easter is as grueling, slow, and rife with frustrations then I think I could become hyper-aware of mankind’s journey from this world to the Kingdom of God.   

I don’t want to get to Easter just because Time whisks me there; I want to walk every step, climb every hill and wade through every muddy stream to travel to the Paschal place of eternal-life made-possible, of reunion with the Creator God and Father.  “No” is the only way to become aware of the journey through Lenten days.  With the use of the “Mystical No” during Lent we enter a small cab, much like the cab of the big red truck where outside there is a world of things that we can’t experience because we are consciously traveling.

In the Gospel of Matthew (6:24) Jesus said that, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”During Lent, to serve the world with its series of satisfied lusts is to refuse to reflect Christ’s sacrificial mission. As with God and mammon, we can’t serve both, lust for comfort and the Spirit.

Christ never asked us to worship Him as we do an actor on stage to be viewed from afar, impressed by his talent and beauty, but rather to follow Him through the roller coaster ride of rejection and glorification to the moment of death in this world and the reopening of the broken bridge to God the Father and our Creator.

Dear fellow aspiring immortal through our willingness to leave comfort in our wake let’s prepare for the painstaking journey of Lent and the marvels we may encounter as we travel in a small cubic cab to the empty tomb.

2 To Be Eve

It was a lovely day, one of the very first since God shouted for light, so I hadn’t many to compare. The sunshine felt warm and inviting on my skin after a long cool night. I looked up and closed my eyes. The heat went from my face into the core of me. With my eyes shut it seemed that light was spreading throughout my body! My man and I had spent all morning gathering berries that grew on bushes near our shelter. They were oh so sweet and delicious! Today we will venture a little farther from home where there are nuts! Mmmmm, nuts! I have a huge round nut that Father-God told me has a pure white chewy center and milky juice, but we can’t open it! We will keep trying.

Adam said that before I was made God told him that he could eat every plant that has seeds and every tree that has fruit with seeds. That is our meat. Oh, the variety of colors and flavors are amazing! Some food is bitter, which I am learning to like, but most of it is quite tasty! We love to eat! I love God too. He comes to visit us every day. Even when I can’t see Him I sense His presence. He is my Father. He is also my Mother.

My man told me that Father instructed him after he was made not eat the fruit from one of the trees, only one, because it was poisonous. I wonder if that is true; maybe Adam misunderstood. Sometimes when I am very hungry and the trees are bare because we have eaten their fruit and I cannot wait for more to grow, I look at that poisonous tree with all of its lush fruit and I want to taste it, just try it. Maybe I will someday. I don’t know what death means anyway, so what harm can it do? Maybe Father is kidding; I know He will always love me, no matter what I do.

Black. I have matured and experienced much since I wrote those words. My man and I still love to eat, but the Father never comes to visit since He sent us away from the garden. Food is harder to come by here. My man must plant the seeds and we wait and wait. Sometimes the ground is so dry that nothing ever happens. I cry a lot.

Once upon a time, many moons ago it rained nonstop for a very long time. Everyone perished in the flood except for a kind man who had met our Father and could hear Him speak. He let me enter the boat Father told him to build that protected his family from the flood. Eventually the water disappeared enough so that we could leave the boat, but for a while it was impossible to plant or to find food. Then the Father told the kind man a very strange thing.

He told him that he could eat moving things that live! Not just the fruit and plants as He told me! Imagine that! Actually killing and eating animals- beings, creatures just like us! But just as He gave my man, Adam, one restriction, He told the kind man not to eat animals with their blood. 

Now the animals are afraid of the men. It is so sad. We had such fun playing together. The world has become so violent. It took me a very long time to get the nerve to eat an animal, but I finally became hungry enough to do that. It was horrible. I cried like a baby.

Yellow. I have some good news today! Our Father created a man, almost as He created my man, but not quite. He called this man His Son which made Adam feel sorry all over again. The new Son came through a woman. I feel a little proud about that. This Son told me that He came to take us back to live with the Father again. What good news! How wonderful it will be when Father visits us again. How I have missed seeing Him.

I want to be ready. I will stop eating animals right now so my body will not be filled with the murder of them, so I can be as I was in the beginning when we were all together and happy before the days of death. I will only eat the fruits and nuts and plants and be oh so grateful and oh so obedient and trusting this time. Thank you Father for letting us come back to live with You. I love you more. 

3 The Decision

As it was in the beginning, so it shall be world without end. Amen.

“Please tell my story” Eve begged yanking my heart’s strings.

“I don’t know that I can,” I replied. “There’s not much to go on, a few sentences and then you ate the poisonous fruit and bam!”

“No, there’s so much more. We actually lived in the Eden for many years. After we were banished it was if we gradually fell asleep year after year we forgot a little more of who we had been, forgot what it was like to walk and talk with God until eventually Adam and I fell into a deep earthy sleep. Suddenly I heard Jesus walking. The sound of His footsteps woke us up! We watched as Jesus did what we used to do in the Garden. Yes! We could walk on water too; it was so much fun. Adam and I had races and dove in to cool off. We played Simon Says with the wind and waves. Jesus reminded us of the days when the world was new and fresh. When Jesus appeared I saw in my mind’s eye the way back to Eden. It was glorious! He was there and here at the same time. He showed me that I could go there, and now I must. But I won’t go alone, the way may be dangerous.”

Eve quickly turned her head and peered into the distance, “Look! They are getting ready to leave the world, bring them with us. Please!”

“Who will believe me that a person can go to Eden during Lent. They will think that’s absurd. They want to blame you for all misery,” I looked into her eyes to see if she flinched when I said that but she didn’t so I continued, “They say that after you disobeyed God the whole world was transformed into a dark and evil place, a far country from which no one on earth can escape. I’ll never be able to convince anyone else that it is possible to go to Eden. They’ll think I’m a heretic.”

 “Oh that doesn’t matter.” She responded, much to my surprise. “The chosen will hear and rejoice because they too have been told that the Garden of Eden still exists on earth. God didn’t say He would annihilate Eden or that He would leave it, He only banished me and Adam. Jesus shows us the way there.  Please be brave, take me home, please?”!

Being relentless Eve added, “What’s the alternative, another walk through the desert? Have you forgotten so soon what the desert taught you? I offer you paradise!”

“Eve,” I replied quietly, “ I think that I am too frightened to go to Eden.  What if we get banished all over again? Nowadays when I fail to resist temptation, or when I disobey God, it doesn’t seem to really matter. But in Eden…well, it’s death!”

“That’s just it. You don’t realize that it matters because everyone here eats freely from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Truly put on Christ, as you think you have and you will be able to exist in Eden! That’s what Jesus showed me when He came. This will be the test for us and our Lenten travelers. Don’t you want to know for sure whether you can make it, before it’s too late? Or would you rather be deluded and comfortable in your own fantasy until Judgment Day!” As Eve said this I wondered if she was hitting me back to see if I too could take the truth.

 “Why wouldn’t you want to go? God is there, He never left.” Eve was wide eyed and more hopeful than ever that I would open the gate to the path back to her birthplace and that I could fill it with Christians who are bold enough and pure enough to inhabit Eden, (as if I could with this blog.) Yet, how could I deny her this wish? She was right; what desert could offer a more challenging or rewarding journey?

Reading my mind, I saw Eve’s face aglow with joy.

“Okay” I conceded meekly, “How do we begin?”

4 Travel by Fast

Now that I’ve gotten the nerve to go, I am very excited. You and I are going to escort Eve back to the Garden of Eden for our Lenten Journey; imagine that.

“Eve, when you saw that Jesus was in the Garden while He was here, did you ask Him how to go back?” I asked.

“Yes, He said that we have to wake up and He will give us light to guide us. Our journey will not be by land as the Exodus was, and it will not be fantasy like your vacation to heaven was last summer. He told me that it will be like the real journey we take every morning from asleep to awake. He said it will be a journey of the body, mind, and heart. I think I know what He meant.”

Feeling a twinge of disappointment, I said, “Everyone wakes up individually, how then can we go together?”

“We can go together because it’s Lent! That’s why we can only do this now and not at any other time of the year. During Lent we are united in our hearts as at no other time. We love God together, each in his or her own way. Our united, holy, catholic (universal) heart has the power to return to Eden as it seeks the Father because that is where He placed us, through me, at the very beginning by His Will and His heart. It is the love magnet. Do you see that?”

“Give me time.” I replied.

Eve went on, “No one knows that he or she is asleep when they are, not even you.” she said looking me straight in the eyes with a little smile. “But when we wake up we’ll know it. That’s why, before Jesus came it was impossible to get back to Eden; we were all asleep. When I saw Him I woke up because the man and I were made in Jesus’ image and likeness. I instantly recognized God in Him, in His spirit. Oh, I can’t explain it; I’m not the writer, you are!”

I had never seen Eve so frustrated, but I could imagine what she meant. I had heard about twins separated at birth who later recognized themselves in each other. I suspected that Eve could remember being with God, which is why we need her. Only Eve will know when we have arrived in Eden. But she needs us too; when she saw Jesus she was reminded of when God was near her, but the good and evil of the world stressed her back to sleep. She needs our collective spiritual energy in the Lenten season to catapult her to Eden, and so do we.

Eve continued, “Just as on any morning, your body wakes up first, then your mind, and then your heart. That’s why when you wake up, sometimes you’re still aware of your dream because your body is awake, but not your mind.

The way to wake up the body is by feeding it differently. That will get its attention!  That’s another reason we can only go during Lent. When else can we get everyone to wake up their bodies at the same time? 

To be in Eden, or to go there, our bodies must be nourished in the way God intended at the beginning. We must stop eating meat. In Eden God very explicitly instructed us to eat the plants and fruit that grow on trees. We were fine with that diet.      

The will power it takes to abstain from meat helps the spirit-me master the flesh-me as it should be instead of the other way around; as it usually is! Since God is Spirit, by strengthening our spirits we can be alert to hear His voice when He calls us back into Eden!”  

Not eating meat will be very hard for me, I thought. I was so used to juicy chops and chicken. I wondered if I was able to stop eating meat. I wondered if I would be able to hear God’s voice when I said, “Eve , even though you saw Jesus living as though He was in the garden, how do you know that we will still find your Eden? After all, Jesus was divine too. He wasn’t like me, and frankly not like you these days either.”

I was a little surprised that she didn’t stop to ponder my question when she said, “Because I know that Eden is still here. God never changed the world after we ate from the tree, He didn’t suddenly dump evil on it like rain.”

This was news to me. I had heard that all of creation had fallen just because she ate the poisonous fruit, so I said, “Well then, how do you account for crime, disease, war, natural disasters, all the horrors of this world!”

“Good and evil were always on earth, even before we ate the fruit, and they always will be. Do the people who say that the whole earth fell see how exquisite this earth is, and how beautiful of heart so many people are? No, I will never support anyone who says that mankind and the earth itself fell just because I disobeyed God once!” Eve’s ire was up. “After we ate the forbidden fruit, the only change was our perception. The world didn’t change, we did! Read it for yourself! It was only when Adam and I felt naked that God could tell that we had eaten the fruit. Eden is still here, and we will wake up to it because Jesus shows us how to!” Then Eve grew slightly penitent when she said, “When we turned away from our Father-God to believe the lie that we could be wise if we knew good and evil, then our focus shifted to ourselves. The birth of the ego! That was the moment of death! I admit that I made a big mistake, but I did NOT cause evil! God never said I did. What really happened is that we died by not being one with God.”

“I’ll bet that Jesus ate meat!”  I said trying to calm her down by changing the subject.

“Are you still thinking about meat?! Geesh! It’s not just about eating meat, even though killing animals is horrible; it’s about being obedient to God, trusting him implicitly! Being able to control what you eat, for love of God, is the very first step to being able to control what you think for love of God, and finally being able to control how you behave for the love of God. It’s all about true love and how one demonstrates it.

Some people say they love but there is no proof of that whatsoever. They say that they don’t have to prove that they love God. But I don’t know why they wouldn’t want to. When I loved my babies, I wanted to feed them and care for them and give my whole self to them because that’s what love made me do. If I neglected my babies and said I loved them then people would be able to see right away that I was lying to myself.  

If you can’t say no to eating meat, then how will you abstain from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?”

“Wait; is there really such a tree?” I asked?”

“Of course there is! What do you think got us into this mess? You blame me for something that you all do, ten times a day!”

I think I succeeded in getting Eve very angry with me. “Well,” she shouted, “I’m warning you, when we get back to the Garden, and that Tree is sitting right smack in front of you promising to make you wise as God, you had better be prepared physically and mentally not to eat from it.  So, if you don’t practice not eating something you really like to eat now, how can you possibly resist the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead? Remember, we are going to find the Tree of Life!”

That did it. Finally Eve convinced me of why it was so important to fast during Lent. 1. To get used to the vegetarian life of the garden 2. To wake up my body, and 3. To practice not letting myself have whatever I want so I can practice being obedient, doing what the authority wants when it runs against what I want, such as eating meat! Obedience helps us with the ego problem.

“Are you almost ready to wake up?” she begged anxious to get started.  

5 The Little Problem of Evil

Eve and I are still in the sleep state to Eden. Waking up every morning in the world is inevitable, but waking up to Eden is not. To wake up from this dream God needs to shake us, and maybe even pour water on our faces.

In this dream state evil is rampant. People hurt each other; there is painful poverty and frightening disease. Natural disasters shock and horrify us. You know that, but what you may not know is that evil in every form is nothing more than the effect of separation from God who is Good, the only Good. Even Jesus didn’t want people to call Him good, because He said that only His Father in heaven is Good. 

Most of us are pretty comfortable living apart from God, even in church, even when we read books and blogs about Him. We don’t even know what it means to live apart from God, because we don’t know what it is like to be with Him. We have never experienced that and so we breathe in this world surrounded by evil and cry, complain, and criticize. Evil enters our hearts when we do that, because we are eating the knowledge of its fruit, and we sink further into sleep.

Eve knows the difference between living with God and living apart from Him. That’s why I want to stay close to her. I hear her weeping quietly, “Eve, what’s wrong?”

“I want to go back to be with God again so badly it hurts sometimes. Don’t worry, I’ll be okay.”

It was then that it occurred to me to wake up by concentrating on how much I love Him.  The spirit-muscle that starts to bulge from the exercise of fasting, and obeying the commands just might come in handy to combat evil thoughts and even thoughts about evil.  See evil, and run, or ignore it, or use your life-force to rub it out. But to be with God, never eat the fruit of the knowledge of evil. It is poison.

Remember those little monkeys, See-no-Evil, Hear-no-Evil, and Speak-no-Evil. I’ll bet they wake up in Eden before we do!

6 Mama Mia

This morning I was reminded of the drunkenness of sleep. Of when the body is mesmerized by dreams and comfort and darkness, and is reluctant to accept any other reality. Only those who have tasted the honey of God’s presence want to abandon the dark comforts of this world in order to wake up.

I love Eve for the heavy burden of sorrow she carries because her naïve curiosity thrust mankind into oblivion. Without wisdom, or experience of death how could she have resisted temptation? I also love her for her determination to follow Christ back to her birthplace.

This is no ordinary journey; this is no ordinary Lent. 

Eve appeared melancholy this morning. “Tell me what it’s like to have a mother?” she asked.

It suddenly dawned on me that Adam and Eve are the only humans who never had a mother, not even a kind step mother, not even a bitter bio-mom. God was both Mother and Father to these original persons that He created in His awesome image and likeness. No wonder Eve’s curious quest for wisdom, no wonder God’s tender but strict response.

I answered, “Eve, I can’t tell you what’s it’s like to have a mother because each person is unique and so every mother/child relationship can be different, but genetically the umbilical cord cannot be severed. I think that the subconscious memory of oneness is never erased. Even if a person lives five hundred years morsels of his heart hold the memory of unity with another soul. Life’s basic quest to bond is not an adventure but rather a restoration of the primal condition. This is something you never experienced; this explains to me why you are so determined to rejoin God by whose Will you were born.”  

It occurred to me that my words saddened her more, so I added, “Eve, I shouldn’t go on. I am sorry that you never had a mother, but of course it had to be that way.”

Changing course I continued, “Many people have never known their mothers, or knew them only for a short time. Sometimes they grow to mother others and vicariously enjoy being mothered. Look at how you cared for Cain and Abel, and little Seth.” Immediately I wanted to take back my words.

“You’re right. I loved my boys. Was it wisdom I found when my son murdered his brother?” with that memory Eve collapsed. She didn’t cry; she just appeared exhausted.

 “Eve!” I shouted, “Don’t eat evil! Trust God who received Abel’s sacrifice before he died. You wanted wisdom. Pain and suffering are its key ingredients.”

I truly felt sorry for Eve, first the separation from God, then her son Abel shows her what God’s death-warning meant. How she suffered. Unhappy with the plummeting direction of this conversation, I had to refocus Eve or we would never wake up to Eden, “I have good news!”

“What?” She cried, looking for relief!

“Eve, you do have a mother who cares for you.”

“Was I adopted?” She laughed at the absurdity of a mature woman being adopted.

“Remember when you saw Jesus?”

“Yes, He shined like the sun in my heart. He was God incarnate.” Eve glowed in the warmth of this joyful memory.

“Right! Then as God incarnate He represented your Father in the flesh, right?”

 “I suppose so.” She said wondering where I could possibly be going with this.

 “Christ has a Bride, the Church! She is your mother and mine too! Her baptisms are births of children like you who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God! She is beautiful; She teaches and nurtures; She can even heal your wounded heart.”

Eve cheered up. “Explain?”

“The Church is the Bride of Christ, our True God. Like Christ she is human and divine. Eve, she is my mother too. Our mother knows of our quest. She will help us wake up in Eden. Come, let’s go to Her whose doors are opened wide during Lent.”

7 Wake Up Praying

 On this journey to Eden Eve and I are not riding in a car, boat or plane, yet there is no doubt that we are moving. Everything around us looks and feels different. We travelers appear more determined than ever to find Eden. Some of us seem so serene; bright faces are beginning to radiate light, while others look tormented. These are the ones who are being challenged. The thorns and thistles planted by demons on the Lenten path are tearing at their flesh. God help them.

 “Eve, tell me what you liked most about living in Eden.”

She replied, “I miss my conversations with God. We spoke so freely. Out here the knowledge of good and evil is so loud and noisy I can hardly hear myself think, lest converse with God. I often don’t even know when He has come to visit me in exile.” Looking up Eve exclaimed, “There’s the bridge I was looking for; let’s go!”

I didn’t see a bridge but followed her anyway.

We arrived at a pile of words. Eve bent over and with her long slender fingers she lifted the corner of a letter as if it was a delicate petal. Like a ribbon whole sentences waved threw the air. “See! Here are the prayers of the saints, those who live in Eden.” Then she gently laid down the ribbon of words in a long thin line. “Walk on these words that form the bridge. It is very narrow and there are sharks on either side. This bridge will help the bleeding ones the most. As long as we walk on the prayers of the saints we will be safe.”

Stepping carefully onto the bridge of words that Eve made, I looked down and read: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. O Trinity uncreated and without beginning, O undivided Unity: accept me in repentance and save me a sinner. I am Thy creation, reject me not; but spare me and deliver me from the fire of condemnation, both now and forever and unto the ages of the ages. Amen.

Those words brought tears to my eyes and for a moment I thought I could see a Garden. Then I heard Eve’s confirmation, “The words of those saints who have already arrived in Eden will transport us there, but we must say them with our whole heart. God spoke the world into being with words and with words we can awaken our sleeping and injured souls. I love words, the pictures they paint, the emotions they stir, the way they can illuminate the deepest caves.” Eve bowed her head and fell to her knees.

Looking up and around she said, “See the sharks are gone. I think we are out of danger and can step off the bridge. We can always hop back on if we need to.”

I looked around and among us and noticed that many of the wounded were healed.

“Now, that we are less afraid, let’s use our own words, ‘Oh God of life, God of the word, take my hand, I can’t reach you. O Father of light, miracle worker who never stops giving and loving, please show us the way to the Tree of Life that you planted for us in Eden. How hungry we travelers are for its fruit. How tragic is this deadly world of good and evil; will I ever be able to forget what you never wanted me to know?

Whispering Eve added, “Now let’s be quiet and listen. Perhaps God will answer me.  Oh I hope we are almost there! God, can you hear me? I’m coming home!”

Sweet sweet Eve; I actually think she was beginning to wake up. I only hope she takes my hand!

8 Inside Out

“Oh Eve, look at the calendar, Lent is almost over, do you think we’ll make it?”

“I hope so! I’m so excited I can hardly breathe!”

Indeed Eve’s cheeks were rosy and her blue eyes sparkled as I had never seen them sparkle before. Her joy infused my own heart. As someone who had never been to Eden, never even conceived of being able to visit the sacred Garden I too was elated over the imminent homecoming. It would have been impossible, flying pig impossible, to travel this wake-up Lenten journey alone.

“Eve, do you feel yourself waking up?” I asked.

“Like a spring breeze Lent has blown through every room of me looking for life,” she replied enigmatically “and found only buds of it.”   

While I was trying to make the connection between waking up, life, and rooms Eve added: “Let’s see for ourselves, shall we?”

I did not say a word, hoping that Eve would start to make sense.

She nearly reminded me of the fairy godmothers in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. “First let’s check the dining room where we have been eating as in Eden. Our entourage has been so good, never minding a bit that they left the world. Have you hungered much?”

Deciding to play along, I responded, “Not enough. Next week I hope to hunger more. For its limitations Eden was also abundant.”

She went on, “Oh how we have relished the time spent in our library with the immortals! When we see them again we’ll have so much to talk about! Look at this tower, so many books, so little time.” 

Starting to get it I was ready to contribute, “Is the family room ready; look at the children, puppies and friends all talking and sharing cares and experiences?  I think the family room of us is fully alive, right?”

Eve was quick to say it needed work and continued. “As for the bathroom, have we adequately cared for the outside of our fleshy-temples to clean and beautify them?”

“Of course!” I whacked and volleyed with, “and the exercise room too! The inside of the cup:  heart, lungs, and muscles are all ready for Eden.” I began to understand what Eve was doing. The house appropriates the life it is designed for and unites with its inhabitants. A house in right standing with God is a person fully alive. Each room represents an aspect of the holistic life.

Correcting me Eve said, “Wrong! The inside of the cup is the soul which is the umbilical cord to God. That has no room of its own because it is the life force of every room. Now let’s check on the most complex room.” Eve went on. “A good way to know if we can awaken in Eden is to inspect the office, our connection with the world.”

Heading for the office I started to cringe and tighten up. Reading my mind Eve said, “Jesus had more demands on Him than you. Don’t fret He became frustrated too, but let’s work on this room, okay?”

“Eve, can we go to the bedroom now? I am feeling very sleepy and I have a lot of housekeeping to do tomorrow.”

“Of course dearie. Sweet dreams, sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

I wish she hadn’t said that!

9 Hosanna Warm-up

"" Shhh come here and watch this. I scurried over to where Eve was crouching behind a rock watching a man untie a colt from the tree. I crouched behind Eve. It looked as if the colt was being stolen because a couple of other men approached and there was some discussion apparently about the animal.

Maybe not, because they took the colt after all.

“You must see this.” she said.

Was I asleep or awake? If I was awake, where was I?

Reading my mind Eve told me that I was both asleep and awake. We were still waiting to wake up in Eden, but before that our entourage (that includes you, the reader) was being given a chance to see Jesus so He could show us how He made Eve realize that it was possible to return to Eden.

Gen 2:4“In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up-for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the earth-then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there He put the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made 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 the knowledge of good and evil.

2:15Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘you may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

“Look, here He comes.” Exclaimed Eve pointing to Jesus walking before our very eyes!

Sure enough, there was the real live Jesus Christ, riding bareback on a colt.

 Stunned, and with my eyes riveted on the Christ, I managed to ask, “Eve have we gone back in time? Does this mean that when we wake up in Eden we will have gone back to the beginning of the world? I didn’t think that was the deal? I like the 21st century quite a lot. I like my country and some of the other ones, and cell phones and computers and bathrooms and refrigeration and aircon…”

“Calm down!” she interjected before I jumped over the edge. “Listen to me. Relax, time is relative. It is an element that God works with much like we work with clay. We can still be in the 21st century when we visit Eden, but the way there is without Time as you thought you knew it. You will understand this later. The only way we can be in Eden is the way Jesus Christ was in Eden when I saw Him. Today we will watch how Jesus could be in Eden in His own time period. This will help us to be in Eden in the 21st century—with cell phones! Okay?!”

Eve continued, “Today is the day that Jesus goes to Jerusalem as a king and victor. Well, not exactly because He refused the accoutrements of an earthly king, but today He receives the praise of the people.

I want you to see Jesus walk right up to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and not even take a bite!

It’s not just the knowledge of evil that we should eschew, who wouldn’t want that? In fact everyone wants paradise because there is no evil there. But the knowledge of Good is equally poisonous, and Christ knows this better than anyone.   

Today Jesus is practicing not eating the knowledge of Good, to help Him not eat the knowledge of evil when the time comes. This is an important day. Learning how to avoid eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil will be essential for us when we wake up in Eden. If we can see the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then the tree of life cannot be far.

Now let’s  be quiet and watch the people treat Jesus like a rock star!”

10 Betrayed Again

In the world when someone is hurt, especially by a person he or she loves deeply, when a betrayal occurs, the victim’s first thought is how to hurt back. I don’t think that the victim suddenly stops loving; I think the victim wants to be reunited and hopes that shared grief will forge a new bond. In the world this approach typically destroys the relationship and starts a negative spiral that turns love into hatred. In Jerusalem as in Eden there was a different response.

Eve is wearing baby blue today. “Thank you for coming with me on this journey. Even though I have bossed you around a lot lately I need your company. I will need it especially today.” The tone of her voice and the expression on her face convinced me that Eve was being most sincere.

Today is the day that we will observe Christ’s torment and betrayal. We will stay awake, but Jesus will not be aware of our presence.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’? “ The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said,’You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her and he ate.”

“… Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared “Very truly, I tell you one of you will betray me.” “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him.”

Jesus went on to Gethsemane where, in anticipation of the flames He would soon endure, “He threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said,Abba Father for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me. Yet not what I want but what You want.”

Upon hearing this Eve cried like a baby, no not a baby who wants to be fed, but like a person who has realized the blasted separation, the price of death, that betrayal demands. Through Eve’s heart wrenching sobs I could make out these words, “Please forgive me my Lord and my God! Please forgive me, please have mercy and forgive me. You shouldn’t have had to suffer betrayal twice.” Tears streaming down her face she cried. “Now I know the priceless jewel of loyalty. I promise you, I I give you my word.. I will never never my Lord and my God never betray you again.”

Still sobbing uncontrollably, I think I heard Eve say, “I beg of you to forgive me for I knew not what I did.”

11 Nothing to Say

Have you ever looked to a court for justice? May you never try for the chance of finding it there is as remote as finding it for sale at Walmart. Human justice is not worth as much as divine justice anyway, even if you could manage to find some under a tree, or on the seashore under some sand.

Jesus knew better than to seek justice in that court. This accounts for His terrible self defense. Once he passed through the twirling flame of the evening in Gethsemane and the betrayal, He just wanted to get the whole thing over with. Who wouldn’t? He was a God/man on a mission.

Jesus knew better than to eat of the tree of the knowledge of evil.

Eve is still very upset and does not want to be seen today. I will respect her wishes. 

12 Reaching the Tree of Life

After viewing the betrayal of Jesus Christ and thus being reminded of the day that she too betrayed God by following the advice of the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit, Eve was overwhelmed with grief. She hadn’t felt so estranged in many moons. She wouldn’t even talk to me, but I stayed close anyway.

Remembering the event of her expulsion from Eden mysteriously harbored her return.

“It looks so different to me now.” Eve said slowly and quietly as if to herself.

“What did you say? Eve, are we there; are we really in Eden?” Nothing appeared different to me. Why did I expect a bright azure blue sky sunny day? Today the sky was lavender gray and it was quiet. Even the chipmunks were hiding in the holes they burrowed into the earth.

“My friend,” said Eve pensively. “Did you notice that when He was tempted in Gethsemane, when He could have run away or in the trial when He could have defended himself, did you see that Jesus Christ was refusing to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Did you see that when I ate from it I was thinking only of myself and how I could benefit, but when Christ was confronted with a much greater temptation to edify himself, He rejected the opportunity in order to obey God who sent Him to the tree of life. He undid me.”

“Eve, do you mean to tell me that we have been in Eden since Wednesday?”

“Yes, but it is not simply being in Eden that we wanted. We must reach the tree of life, and Jesus will take us there today.”

Then the Lord God said,’ See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”−

And at the East of the garden of Eden God placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.”

Because of those cherubic guards and the flaming swords it has been impossible to reach the tree of life all of this time. But now watch Jesus Christ command the angels to move so He can pass through the flaming swords to reach the tree for us.

“Oh Eve! This is amazing.” I exclaimed.

“Yes amazing grace is what it is, my friend. Look! Here He comes.”

Here we were standing in Eden and on Golgotha at the same time, just as Christ was. The slashes on His skin must have been made by the turning swords as He passed through them. Eve and I watched the Cross being lifted.

Eve whispered in my ear, “Look at Him up there, naked and unashamed just as we were in Eden. Now I understand why the tree of life was being guarded all this time. Only Jesus Christ was worthy to distribute it to the people through their baptism.

Saint Paul said it best when he wrote, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.” The whole big timeless and immortal body of believers together is hanging on that tree of death which is also the tree of life. Eve is there and so am I and so are you.

 God planted this tree in the middle of the garden during the creation of the world to give life abundant and eternal to His children who, like Eve, were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

“Eve,” I said breaking the silence “I think I understand now. You and I and all of these people with us are with God as you were with God in the Garden of Eden. Death has been destroyed on this day, and we are free to commune with God just as in Eden as long as we do not eat of the knowledge of good and evil again.”

“Yes,” she replied ”but you are more blessed then I ever was, because if or when you cave to the temptation to put yourself first or in any way to drift from God’s commands then you need only return to the tree in communion with Jesus and your life will be instantly restored.

Shhh today this looks like the tree of death. Let us bow our heads and pray for patience.

What an awesome awful day this is.”

Happy 1st Birthday Lilly Juliana.

13 The Sabbatical

“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Gen 2:1-3

“Eve, are we still in Eden?” I asked. “It’s so quiet.”

“Yes, we are; this is the Sabbath day of rest. God is resting. Poor Jesus after all He went through, He is resting.”

“Eve, will we actually live forever when we eat from the tree of life?” Eve’s eyes were bright and beautiful as she looked at me with wonderment and then replied, “Yes, of course silly. Why do you think we came here? We don’t want to die. We came back to Eden so God could restore my life and yours and the others who are with us on this journey.”

Funny how just now I started to think about the logistics of living forever. “Um, Eve,” I asked, “Won’t it be weird to never die when everyone else does? How will we work when we are four hundred years old? There is such a thing as age discrimination in the workplace you know.”I suppose I wanted to go back to Eden to see paradise and instead I found Jesus Christ suffering on the Cross. This has been a most unexpected outcome.

I added, “If we are in Eden with Jesus, then I hate to tell you this, but He DIED yesterday.”

“My turn,” said Eve with a knowing grin.

Bracing myself for her question, I replied, “Okay, shoot.”

“Does God lie?”

“Of course not! He despises lying. Liars are among the first to go to hell in the judgment.

“When God told me that on the day I would eat the poisonous fruit I would die. Did I? Remember, Adam and I had children after that. So did God lie to me?”

I answered, “Most people read that to mean that you would die eventually and that death came to the whole world, even to animals.”

“Oh don’t be silly. God said nothing about animals dying if I ate the fruit! He said I would die. Let me tell you my friend, I did die on that day. The minute we noticed that we were naked and ashamed it was apparent that we were dead because we were self conscious.  We separated ourselves from God and then He let us drift farther from His will. When my son Cain was jealous because God did not accept His gift of fruit Cain’s focus was on himself and it has gone on that way through the millennia. Dead humans think about themselves, their nakedness, and their passions. Illness, both physical and mental is a type of death because the person can’t help but focus on themselves. That’s why with His dominion over nature, Jesus Christ started His mission by healing left and right; He immediately started restoring life to mankind.”

 “Yes,” I exclaimed, “and He died!!”

“But only for a second!” Eve shot back. "Did you hear Him yesterday when He said, ‘My God my God, why have You forsaken Me?’ That was the moment He separated from God. He focused on Himself in order to go to Hades where all the dead people go so He could unlock the door to give them life too.”

“Eve, if you hadn’t eaten the poison fruit would your body have stayed alive forever?”

Without hesitation Eve replied, “Maybe but why would I want that? Bodies wear out naturally because God made them that way for the same reason that He made the seasons.

When we ate the poison fruit we immediately died the death of being out of God’s will and self conscious and THEN we lost power over nature so we had no control over illness and aging, not even our own. Shedding the body and becoming a free spirit without the burden of the body has been kind of nice too! But it shouldn’t always be called death.

I must say, it was so wonderful to see Jesus with His dominion over nature again, healing and bringing people back from the dead! Ah my heart sang to see that.

We should stop talking now; it is the day of rest. Tomorrow will be a big day in Eden and in Jerusalem!”

The difference between biological death and spiritual death was confusing so I said, “Eve one last question, when we eat from the tree of life will we regain our power over nature so we too can heal people, walk on water, and multiply food?” 

14 Easter/Pascha

Eve and I woke-up simultaneously in utter darkness. I mean we really woke up! I know that all this time Eve said our Lenten journey was to be an awakening rather than a trek through space or even time, but I didn’t quite understand what she meant until today. When a person wakes up from the sleep state (s)he is suddenly in a place that is quite different from wherever the dream took him or her. In the last few days we had seen glimpses of Eden, but today we have finally arrived to stay.

Eden is a beautiful peaceful place because it is where man and God live together on this earth. Of course God doesn’t live full time in Eden, He never did. ‘He art in heaven.’ But when He comes to visit He sees His children, alive and loving, just as He always intended them to be. The pride of this Divine Father is no less than the pride any father feels for his sons and daughters when they look and behave like the best of him, and when they accomplish great things for this world.

Awakening to Eden has been the most astounding experience of my life. I hope to stay here all my earthly days. When my body yields to nature I hope to go to live without my body in the resting place where God’s children wait for the new body and the new earth pictured in the Revelation to Saint John. For now, I want to thank Eve for giving me the idea of going back to Eden and we both want to thank Jesus Christ for paving the way back.

Eve and I had fallen asleep on soft ground by the mouth of the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea where lain the lifeless body of Jesus.  A cool breeze wafted over our faces sending a chill down my spine. It was the day after the Sabbath rest but it seemed to me like the very first day of creation. The world felt fresh as if recently plucked from its roots in bondage.

“Eve look, the stone is still there.” Our eyes were fixed on the closed tomb as if it was the horizon waiting for the brilliant tip of the sun to appear.

All of a sudden a shimmering white light surrounded the boulder revealing what must have been a glorious surge of light inside the tomb, like the light I imagine appeared on the first day when God call light into existence, like the Tabor-light of transfiguration, like the blinding light on Moses’ face after visiting God. In serendipitous unison, Eve and I and the rest of our party slowly whispered, “Praise God” incapable of saying anything else so utterly flabbergasted were we.

By the light of the moon and stars we could see a wind push the boulder away from the mouth of the cave.  We witnessed the figure of the man-of-light walking out of the radiant tomb surrounded by a host of archangels. It was the same body we had seen hanging on the cross, but transfigured again. He was holding a stick and His head was held high like a General proud and victorious after battle, refreshed from a mission well accomplished and with no casualties. But not a man: a god, imagine Zeus, imagine Apollo. The archangels surrounding Him were militant as well; perhaps it was Michael on His left side, perhaps Rafael on His right.  Outside the tomb the entourage was greeted with a host of cherubim cheering and laughing. Such sober merriment eyes had never received.

Jesus Christ spotted Eve and walked right up to us. He looked her straight in the eye and she looked up at Him with great courage and loving admiration. Jesus said to Eve, “Follow Me. I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” Unable to sustain the power of His presence, Eve buckled and fell at His feet. I think I felt myself and the rest of us disappear, I’m not sure.  The party of Christ with His servants and friends then turned and walked away fading from our sight, leaving a lone angel to wait in the cave.

Like the Shunemite woman’s son, like Jairus’ daughter, like Lazarus, Jesus returned from death. Unlike Lazarus and the others, Christ brought a gift, the tree of life, to share with the children of God. Like the dove that carried the olive twig back to Noah, Jesus carried a branch from the tree of life to His brothers and sisters. 

Christ returned from exile, the same exile to death that Eve instituted upon mankind.  He endured His Holy expedition through the twirling flames of betrayal, persecution, and crucifixion for one purpose: to show Eve, me and you the way back to life: to immortality where mankind consciously lives with God, in His Will, and according to His likeness.

Welcome to Eden, my reader-friend. Let’s proclaim the good news that death is no longer mandatory. Let’s follow Christ’s footsteps through the flaming swords or tuck ourselves safely inside Him to reach the tree of life that was planted in the middle of Eden at creation.

With tears streaming from our eyes Eve and I hugged each other tight while singing, voicing, proclaiming and saying, “We made it! We made it!”

Then Eve said, “I must go back for Adam. Oh I can’t wait to tell him where we’ve been! Please be here when I get back okay?”

I smiled and said, “I hope to be; go in peace sister. I’ll wait here for the ladies to show up. I can’t wait to see the expressions on their faces.”

Eve winked and left skipping down the path.

The New Day.

15. Echoes from Eden

After Eve went back to find Adam and tell him about her adventure I stayed at the scene of the luminous resurrection long enough for the ladies to show up so I could see the shocked expressions on their faces. The fear-to-joy transition was never so magnificent and never would be again.  What a grin it glued onto my face.

I promised Eve that I would wait for her return. Meanwhile, I had to figure out how to stay in Eden, but force milennia to pass-by in a flash, so I could return to my sacred technology.   

I  remembered that when we finally found Eden I came to understand that it is the place on this earth where God and His children meet. It is the garden where He always intended us to live in obedience and trust until that awesome day when this earth gives way to the new earth inhabited only by God’s sons and daughters, where Satan’s folly is no more. The whole idea of creating a planet and animating it with chosen people with golden hearts is brilliant but requires so much patience and planning that I am sure that only God could have thought of it and could make it happen. Who else has the time?

Until that glorious day we get Eden: this old earthly place where we who are born by the will of God can hear Him speak. The difference between Eden and Milwaukee is that in Milwaukee people talk to God day and night, talk-talk-talk. They rarely even take a breath to hear Him answer. But in Eden, the obedient ones who manage to fast from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or when they do, who grab the antidote: the tree of life, made accessible at the crucifixion, can actually hear God speak to us, if we will only listen.

Lilies laugh louder than nasturtiums.

If you knew that then you too might be in Eden.

Happy Mother’s Day Eve wherever you are. Please come home.

16. Hear God Speak

I managed to land back in the 21st century, but then I had to make sure I was in Eden.

As I looked around I saw a young couple walking toward me hand in hand. The closer they got, the surer I was that it was my precious Eve and her husband Adam. Eve had never looked so young and so beautiful; I had never seen Adam.

“I’m back!” she said and dropped Adam’s hand to hug me. “This is Adam!”

Adam reminded me of Michelangelo’s David. It was breathtaking to be in his presence, a perfectly formed man. I wanted to believe that he was as perfect in his heart as he was in form. I never thought too highly of Adam when I read of how he caved to Eve’s request right away and without compunction, and how he blamed her immediately when caught. I wanted to punch him right then and there.

In the midst of these unsettled thoughts I tried to be polite, smiled and shook his hand.

“Look, I’m sorry I blamed Eve.” He said. As Eve could read my mind apparently so could Adam. “Don’t you think I’ve regretted eating that fruit too; will I never live this down?”

I tried to get over my embarrassment as I vaguely heard him go on. “Have you ever wondered what would have happened if she ate it and I didn’t? Have you ever wondered if God expected us to eat the fruit? Why did He plant that tree right smack in the middle of the Garden?”

“I’m sorry too Adam. Please let’s move on. We’ll ask God when the time is right. For now, the past doesn’t matter.” Then I turned to Eve and said, “Eve, I just arrived and I am not sure that I’m still in Eden.”

“Well, has God spoken to you yet?” she replied.

“I think He said that ‘Lilies laugh louder than nasturtiums.’ What a funny thing to say. I can’t help but laugh and wonder if it’s true.”

“Oh, it’s true alright. That lily family! What a cacophony they make, Easter lilies, tiger lilies, lilies of the valley, it’s a chorus of laughter when they come together.” She said all cheery.

Then I brought her right back down by adding, “How do I know when God speaks to me?”

Eve looked as though she felt sorry for me, or as if I was a two year old she had to teach to speak when she replied, “You can just tell, silly! Let me think. You know it is God is speaking when He says something that you just know you wouldn’t say. Sometimes He speaks through your conscience, sometimes through circumstances or through others, or through the Bible. God talks a lot. Here, read this:”

"He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God." John 8:47 NKJV  I cringed and she read on. "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. John 10:26-28 NKJV.

“Eve, I think I just heard God say He loves me, could that be Him?”

17. My Problem with Sin

 Eve hugged me and said, “Of course that was God speaking to you. He loves you and He wants you to know.”

I replied, “Doesn’t God love everyone? Or don’t you think I was only thinking something that I want to be true?”

Our relationship changed. When I first me Eve, before Easter, she was a young lady yearning to go home. She needed my help. She seemed lost and afraid, and needy. But after being brought back into Eden by Christ, into the presence of God her Father, Eve exuded an aura of confidence, full of love and grace. She was my mother; at least I wanted her to be. Certainly eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had given Eve wisdom. I didn’t know how long Eve would spend with me so I wanted to make the most of every minute to question her. But as any good mother she wanted me to learn on my own.

“You don’t have to go through me. God will teach you all you want to know. You are His child, go to Him for your lessons. If you do well, will He not accept you and if you don’t do well, sin is lurking at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

“There see!” I exclaimed, “I don’t understand that! That’s what God told your son Cain before he killed his brother.”

Eve looked at me and then over to Adam with a nod. Adam reached for my hand and peered into my eyes as Eve had so many times before and said, “What don’t you understand?”

“I don’t understand what sin is. Is it missing the mark of God-likeness or is it an alien predator, something outside of me lurking at my door to hurt me?  What is this enemy waiting to pounce on me when I don’t do well? I suppose Cain let it in when he killed his brother. Even then, God said He would protect Cain from being killed by others even after he left the presence of the Lord.” Adam and Eve patiently listened as I continued.

“In church on Good Friday I stood next to a man who I hadn’t seen there in years. I knew him to be quick-tempered with a foul mouth. I was surprised to see him in church. As I stood there a powerful feeling came over me that God was happy to see the man beside me, that he was loved and received more than I was. He was the prodigal son. Words can’t describe the power of that feeling. It shocked me, but I basked in its warm envelope of love, even though it was for my neighbor and not for me. It was for that maniac!”

Eve said, “See, God spoke to you with that feeling!”

Then Adam added, “God told Cain that sin is a three step process, 1) don’t do well, 2) recognize sin, and 3) master it…or not.  Cain’s jealous thoughts were not yet sin. He could have mastered that, but he didn’t. God didn’t love Cain less after he sinned, and he didn’t love your neighbor less. Someday the judgment will come, but until then God is patient and tolerant. Love covers a multitude of sins. Becoming like Christ by obeying His commands is the only sure-fire way to avoid sin. Do you understand?”

“No,” I responded meekly hoping Adam didn’t hear me.