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.

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.  

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.”

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. 

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?” 

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.