Saturday, May 5, 2012

From the Moon to the Garden of Eden

Today our family watched a documentary called, "In the Shadow of the Moon." I've seen several films about the Apollo moon landings, but this one ended on a particularly spiritual note. Each astronaut gave a "testimony" of how the experience of space travel had revealed to them the existence of a Creator. One spoke of having an epiphany while seeing the moon, sun, and earth out the window of the command module; he realized that we are all connected. Another was so struck by God's handiwork, that he gave his life to Christ soon after returning to earth. These seems like fairly typical responses from someone who has been off the planet for awhile, but the line that grabbed me by surprise was from an astronaut, so taken by seeing earth from space, that he described the whole planet as "the garden of eden." The WHOLE earth...I've never really thought of it that way. I've imagined a lush garden - full of fruit and nut trees, various veggies, and juicy grape vines created for Adam and Eve. I pictured it with borders. Maybe even a nice bright white picket fence.

The whole earth... hmm, now I've seen pretty scenery in the midst of poverty-stricken countries, and I often take a look at the acres of farmland near my home and feel grateful that beauty fills the earth. But to rethink that the Garden of Eden described in the Bible, actually is a way to describe Earth, this was an epiphany for me! It makes sense and it also encourages my desire to find ways for humankind to do our share of joining in God's redemptive work. There are no borders, no fences containing what God has made for us to share, love, and enjoy. When God created Earth, it wasn't just a gift for Adam and Eve, but for you and me. Too often, in the part of the Garden of Eden that I live in, we've made the gift just about us. Instead of sharing the gift, we've claimed it as our own. We have exploited other parts of the Garden, and the people who live there, for selfish gain. We continue to destroy vast portions of it in the name of greed. I'm part of the rich, white, American culture that cares more about personal comfort than I do about the Garden. I want out.

Or do I? There are times when I'm just so sick of it all. Then I look at my new 400 thread count sheets and say an "Amen." I run late to an appointment and I'm glad I have a car instead of a horse, or just a pair of sandals. This world that we live in, that we've created, that we put borders around to keep out those who aren't "one of us" is a sickening mess. But it's still the Garden of Eden.

I ordered three books from Amazon last week. I'm remembering how the fact that I have the luxury of buying $37 worth of books is a extreme luxury that the vast majority of Garden dwellers can't afford. The books arrived in the mail today and I'm tempted to set aside all other priorities so that I can immerse myself in:
Just a Minute by Wess Safford, Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis, and A Place at the Table - 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor by Chris Seay.

I live a life of mediocrity, wanting to make a change, but not secure enough to really do so. I live with a desire to learn more about how to eradicate poverty, but I do so from the sanctuary of my suburb. I pray that God will continue to create, grow, and produce a Garden of love and compassion in my life. And as he does, I promise to share. 

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