Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)
Of course man still cultivates gardens, even in these, some say, “last days” when the long shadows East of Eden have stretched to the ends of the earth.
What got me thinking along more spiritual lines was a scene near a country road in South East England my friend Colin wrote about entitled, “The old homestead” (copied below) detailing life in and about a centuries-old farmhouse and who, perhaps, had lived there and how.
He detailed a bucolic scene and lifestyle not so often appreciated these days when most plowshares and pruning hooks are still shaped like swords and spears, where lions still stalk lambs, and where the darkness shrouding the world in this era is heavy with so much strife.
Nevertheless, believers are still directed to pray…
…first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority…
…we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior… (1 Timothy 2:1-3, NIV)
For the same God Who assigned the cherubim with flaming sword at Eden’s gate after the fall, in concert with His Son and the Holy Spirit seeded man’s hearts with hope for restoration in a time to come, after there’s been enough evil and bloodshed, when Jesus, Himself,
…will judge between the nations and arbitrate for many peoples.
When men will…
…beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer take up the sword against nation, nor train anymore for war. (Isaiah 2:4)
Henceforth a new Eden.
On this, friends, keep your hearts fixed.
And in the meantime, take a brief respite and enjoy this shadow of things to come–again.
The old homestead
The little bus reached the highest point on its route, a place where the view is more like a vista. In the distance, the flat expanse of north-east Kent over towards Thanet. Straight ahead, through the haze, the cathedral towers dominate the skyline of Canterbury. Nearby, to the west, a farmhouse like several others along the route, comfortable in its own skin of russet brick and tile, embedded in the fabric of the land.
How many generations have lived in this house? Whose ghosts flit in and out of the musty shadows within these walls? For centuries the tillers of the land have ventured out from this place to expend muscle and sweat on the rich earth in an unforgiving climate, from cruel winters to searing summers. These folk are attuned to the revolving cycle of seasons, immersed in the sweet-smelling soil that yields them a living. They reckon the times to plant and sow and reap, to harvest and gather in. They know the ways of nature, the jaw that grips, the claw that tears, the beak that gores, the fleece on the thorn, the blood on the post, the scattered feathers than betoken sudden death, the tufts of fur that speak of a frenzied feast, the fox that lurks and stares, the bird that soars, the rabbit that fears. Yes, let nature take its course, let nature have its way, but let us and the sheep and the cattle abide in peace and let us judge when to tear the wheat and the corn from the good earth. Let nature take its course.
And so at day’s end the welcome return to the homestead, dirty and weary, brows furrowed, hands gnarled and calloused, to the cup that cheers, the bread that fills, the stew that nourishes, the ale that revives the spirit. Desultory talk takes place among familiar surroundings, the creaking chairs, the crackling hearth, the curled cat, the firled umbrella, the old clock that marks time unending. And so to bed and the feathery pillow on which to lay one’s head and sleep, forgetful sleep, for tomorrow is another world but the same world, another act in the drama but a similar act, only the scenery has changed ever so subtly and will be noticed by the sharp eye, the wrinkled narrowed eye of the countryman. And all will be well for the seasoned man of the soil, for he knows his way round these parts. He knows.
Thus the wheel turns and turns again, the wheel of time in this timeless land, a land that yields to pick and shovel, that yields the crops. Today is another act in the same drama, with the old familiar players. This is a day to build up and tear down, a day for triumph and heartache, a day to laugh and be of good cheer, a day to find a point when to cease toiling, to find a soft grassy seat to munch the pie and crunch the apple, to sit and gaze at all the familiar colours and patterns, to be filled with wonderment, wonderment that has been joyfully renewed a thousand times. A time to be content with this splendid domain, this little Eden.
Colin blogs at Fellowship of St. Peter.
Image of Canterbury Cathedral in the distance from the public domain.