A strange phrase came to me last night — The Garden of Eden is a choice. I have no idea where it came from but it startled me no end.
I kind of hemmed and hawed around all night, didn’t sleep well, and have fussed with it this morning. I felt what I have to say, while not controversial in the way I mean it, will get all kinds of everybody up in arms for all manner of reasons. Perhaps if you feel that way just bear with me, read it through if you can, and leave a comment afterwards.
I believe we choose our heaven and I believe we choose our hell.
See what I mean. Take a deep breath.
Now, I don’t mean consciously or from birth on. I was sexually and emotionally abused from 4-18 and that was not, I can assure you, a choice. Not in this lifetime anyway. Of course many believe that we choose these things before we are born to learn lessons. I’m leaving that one alone right now, it is not my premise, my thesis, nor my purpose to explore in this post.
What I mean, to put it a little differently than I did in the last post, is that I am in an exploratory phase of my life. I have been a Seeker since I was young. I was raised Cath0lic, studied metaphysics, had a stint in Unity Church, 30 odd years studying and still following many tenets of Buddhism, was ordained a Christian minister, studied Native American Spirituality for many years, and more. Right now, and some will find this offensive, I have an eclectic brand of spirituality and it works for me. I am deeply spiritual, but not religious. The quote that best describes who I am and how I live and walk on this earth as a spiritual being is from the Dalai Lama who said…
“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies.
My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”
For me, that is enough. And it’s not about shedding labels as I wrote about last night, it’s about coming to a kind of simple clarity so that life feels as if it has more ease. Last night I wrote that I wanted to be a gentle woman. Today I will tell you that, most deeply, I want to be kind.
So what to do with this Garden of Eden business? In my mind it came not as something Biblical but for me, at this juncture, when I have just returned to my beloved Dragonfly Cottage that burned down in February and took 8 months to rebuild, it came, I believe, as a way to focus my energies. This just came to me…. Heaven and Hell are with us everyday. They are in the choices we make.
This bit about having choice is big to me now. You can run all helter-skelter making decisions in every direction, willy-nilly, and not think too much about the consequences when you are young, or rather, you should, but unless they are dire consequences you still have time to turn things around and go in a different direction. At 60, every choice, every moment, every day matters. And while I am here on this earth I want to live in Eden. What does that mean for me?
I am writing, as I talk, here, in a circular fashion. Normally I clean that kind of writing up to make it more straight forward and clear, but when you are in a processing mode the only way to get where you want to go is to noodle around a bit and try different things on for size.
Okay, I’m just going to try this on for size.
Eden is the place of perfect peace and harmony that we can return to any time we want to, when we know, when we truly know, that it doesn’t matter if we ate the apple, if we still love, love with all our heart, if we are gentle and kind, if we are true and if we are not afraid to be vulnerable, yes! Maybe that’s it! Maybe it’s not about eating or not eating an apple, maybe it’s about not minding if people throw apples at us when we are brave enough to stand up with who we are, fully, lopsided and cattywompus, wabi sabi, comfortable and satisfied with our own imperfect perfection, and if we just stand up here and say I am going to live with a bunch of pugs instead of people and I love you all but these babies are the ones I wake up with every morning and go to sleep with every night and they are my family and so while I appreciate your invitation with all my heart and love you more than the moon and the stars, no, I will stay home with my babies. This is the one place I feel safe and that’s okay.
Maybe it’s okay, yes, it is okay, to stand up and say, you know, I’m not ever going to be thin. I am going to be thinner, and I am working at learning, at 60, to really cook, to cook good food, to eat food that fills me up with joy. I count joy, not calories.
Oh, oh, and this too, maybe at 60 I can learn to clean up my room! I’m already doing much better at this. And in the last 8 months I learned to sleep in a bed. Prior to the fire the pugs and I hadn’t slept in a bed in I don’t know when. I was raped and abused and terrified in bed. Bed has never been safe for me. I walk the floors at night or toss and turn in a cold sweat because I don’t know what is coming down the hall. So I don’t sleep down the hall, I cower on the couch in the opposite end of the cottage under old soft quilts and snuggle with pugs. No, wait, I did do that but…
The night of the fire, that terrible night, of screaming sirens and windows exploding and birds dying and the only life I’d ever known how to build shredded and burned and gone up in toxic smoke it is as if all the toxic things in me went up and out through the attic, through the roof, and shot up to the moon and the stars and to outer galaxies. I fell into a bed that night in the hotel and I have slept in one ever since. The pugs and I. And I am safe there, and I am happy and at peace. Maybe Eden is on the other side of a devastating fire.
In this moment a hot coal of a thought shot past me and singed my arm, just enough, like a tattoo, to leave a mark so that I would remember. God said to me, “It wasn’t about not eating the apple Maitri, it has been, all along, about you knowing that I love you so completely that you could come up to me with the half eaten apple in your hand and say, “I ate the apple, not to defy you but because I needed the apple, I was hungry. But I love you, I want to stay here in Eden with you, will you teach me about love and can I show you how I love, and can this be okay? And God said yes, and I knew I had found Eden forever.
I think this is what it means. I think God is waiting for us to choose Eden, apple notwithstanding. Tonight I have chosen Eden, and on that place on my arm that was burned that night there are 3 words… God said yes. That is enough for me. I have found my Eden.