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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Garden Roots

Could it be that the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve being driven from it (because of sin) is actually a parable of everyone’s perpetual homelessness? At one time these two characters in the story had a home. It was a nice home at that. However, being home was less about the beautiful Garden than it was about the sense of fulfillment, being at peace with the "family" they were experiencing as they lived in harmony with God as their Creator. The beautiful surroundings they enjoyed were simply sumptuous exterior signs of a lavish and peaceful interior reality they were experiencing every moment of every day. They were living the magical film about being home, “White Christmas” but actually relishing the real version of being home – not the Hollywood version.

Consider the fact that each of us is at the very least is psychologically “homeless.” Each of us lives with unanswered questions, a restlessness, an unfulfilled longing that translates into insatiable obsessions, compulsions and searches that leave us unfulfilled. Each of us is definitely psychologically homeless (damaged) and many of us are physically homeless too. No matter, all of us are homeless one way or another – all are related – brothers and sisters – hobos together. That is until like Augustine we say, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

Possibly then, this ancient story of being disbarred from Garden paradise is telling us that because of disobedience we have been ousted from our homeland – our heritage, our true roots, our big family and our home. As a result, we will always be pilgrims, always nomads – vagabonds until each makes the journey back to God – back to obedience with His will.

The Garden Eden of account in this disbarring “home-to-homeless” light begins to explain our Holy Longing as Ronald Rolheiser explains it in his book by the same name. In fact, all through history we are aware of people after people, nation after nation repeating this very same story. Once they were no people – then they became a people. Peoples were lost, found and then became sojourners once again – especially when a nation sinned in grave ways. So sin seems to be the deciding factor that helps keep us as individuals and nations on the run. Like in the Garden, it gets us easily kicked out from what we thought was home.

This is the very same story of the Jews in the desert. They lose their home in 70 A.D and never get it back. It is also the story of the Persians, Greeks, the Romans, the American Indian. Will it eventually be the story of America too?

Getting kicked out does not just happen to peoples and nations. It is also the story of every human being. Our story begins with birth in a home. Later, we leave home, go to college, etc. and become homeless. At this point in our your lives we begin to always search for our roots – lonely and restless – even to the point of depression, compulsion, ADD, ADHD, etc.

Homelessness is at the heart of the human condition and it can never be fixed until each turns their heart, their focus and wills back to God. When that is done, each is flooded with feelings of peace, solitude and rest. Then we are inundated with a sense that we belong – we have arrived. Each enters into the communion of the saints – our true family heritage. We begin to live with all those who have gone before us and who ever will – all those who also have turned to God and found home. It is in this light that each finds our family, our roots, our homeland. We find eternal rest.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You've given an age-old spiritual theme a new twist, connecting it to our political problem of homelessness. Nice! The existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers has noted that the rise of philosophy and the world religions in the 800s B.C. to 300s B.C. (which Jaspers has referred to as the "Axis Age") had as its theme the idea of LIFE AS A JOURNEY. All of the founders of the religions, Zoroaster, the Hebrew Prophets, Buddha, and the founders of philosophical systems, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, etc. saw life as transitory or simply a journey toward enlightenment or HOME. So, your theme is well established. M.D.