Paradise Now

On occasion I’ve been at local shops and overheard a visitor say, “Just another perfect day in Paradise!” I smile because it does seem like Paradise, this beautiful island set in a turquoise sea, ringed with white sand beaches, palm trees, and tall pines. But if this is Paradise, it isn’t the original Paradise before Adam and Eve sinned. There are problems on the island too—relationships that shatter, sickness and death, drownings and child abuse, loneliness and alienation. Paradise isn’t a geographical entity; it is a state of grace and proximity to God that acknowledges the presence of sin, but also acknowledges God’s victory over forces of evil. I thank you, Lord, for this beautiful island, but even more than that I thank you for the place you’ve prepared for me in the eternal Paradise. Until I taste that glory, make my life here on the island a fit preparation for eternal life with you. Amen.

 

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Jumbled MusicJumbled Music

Last night the wind blew so hard it battered my bamboo wind chimes, scattering bamboo lengths all over the yard below.  I thought during the night I could hear the jumbled sounds, but blithely rolled over and resumed my sleep.   Now we’ll have to collect, restring and realign the chimes if they’re to make music once again.   Sometimes I think I ignore too much jumbled music; people call me mentioning problems that overwhelm them.  I learn that someone in my neighborhood has fallen and been hurt, I’m told there is an urgent need for volunteers at the local hospital—I hear all of this, but choose instead to roll over and resume my own peaceful sleep, my own peaceful days.  Forgive me, Father, when I ignore the cries of those in need.  With careful attention, we can repair the wind chime, but broken spirits can’t be so easily put right.  Please help me to respond to all the jumbled music so I too can help put things right with your help. Amen.

Thinking Through TrashThinking Through Trash

This week’s rough wind and waves have torn piles of sea grapes and left them strewn on the shore. I picked my way along their drying heaps thinking of how unattractively they litter the beach. Then I noticed shore birds pecking through the sea grapes, finding bits of food among the tangled leaves and stems. I’m surprised to see so much bounty being discovered, and I’m led to wonder about the litter in my life—what can it be made to yield? Often it has been a crisis that tempered my judgment and brought me closer to God. I spent six months in a body cast, confined to a hospital bed, and learned more from that experience than any university course or self-help book. My father’s early death taught me about faith and forgiveness and the importance of living each moment. Maybe I need to re-examine the detritus of my own life more carefully, identifying the nourishing insights it might produce. Please help me, Father, to see your hand in everything that happens; may I use my life in accordance with your will and in your service. Amen.

Controlled BurnControlled Burn

  There is a controlled burn on the mainland.  Acrid smoke hangs heavy in the air; its path covers everything and blurs my vision.  We’re told the burn is necessary because it destroys underbrush that catches fire far too easily, quick fuel for blazes than can then be controlled only with great effort and expense.  I have “underbrush” in my life as well—negative thoughts I’ve let accumulate.  Unless I ‘control burn’  them, they are fuel for fires that destroy my right relationship with God, with others.  They lie on the dry forest floor of my mind, fueled by thoughts that are critical, judgmental, hypercritical.  Only a spark of anger can set them ablaze so easily, but putting them out is difficult.  Please, dear Lord, help me burn away this debris so my relationship with you can be lush, green, and free of destructive negativity.  May the air I breathe, may the breezes that blow through my mind, flow freshly through the breath of the Holy Spirit. Amen.