The Genesis narrative is Paradise lost as humanity goes it alone. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden represents the tree of “self” which separates us from the Creator of life. In the chaos, we become like God knowing and experiencing life from our perspective. Men and women search for the meaning of life through personal experience and are blind to see reconciliation and union with God as a possibility.
The good news is God takes the divine initiative to seek and restore us. Jesus dying on the cross represents for the Christian the answer to becoming spiritually alive. The self must die as Jesus proclaims, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
Various faith groups acknowledge for spiritual life to occur the self must pass away and embrace a new identity. In dying to self, by faith, we are united in life with the “resurrected” Christ. We discover this reality in our lives when we engage the risen Christ. As self-passes away, the living Christ manifests His life.
Contemplation offers our lives the possibility of living moment by moment with paradise in our heart. As we become God Conscious, we touch divine life when we walk in harmony with God and creation. Deep in our spirit, we experience the peace, love, security, joy and freedom of walking with God. Paradise is now found in our heart!
We grasp Thomas Merton’s insight, “All eternity has become ours in one placid and breathless moment!” We are one in spirit with the creation and with God. We comprehend the glory of God as Jesus words in John seventeen speak eternal life in us. “My prayer is not for them alone. I also pray for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me, and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Photo: John Martin Paradise Lost Creation of Light