Eden's Gates | A talk by Valerie Brown
Usually there's a trigger. It can
be anything. Sometimes it's something sad, like an empty chair that reminds you of someone you've lost.
But it can also be something exquisitely beautiful, a sunset over the sea, a flower, a garden, a piece of
music. But why should something beautiful move us to tears, make our hearts ache? It's surely because
there is regret there; regret not for what might have been but for what we know is going to be; regret for
the future. The flower, the garden, the sunset, the planet itself is ephemeral. Loss is ever present even in
moments of glory.
Sorrow always accompanies our pleasure and joy. We know our happiness can't last for ever, but
we wish it could. If only time would stop for a while we say. And our hearts reach out, yearning for the
eternal. But then, our hearts have been aching since the beginning of time, ever since Eden's gates closed
against us. And here we are still knocking on the door. Will it, can it ever open to us? But eternity is only
a moment, the eternal present moment, and if we live in the present instant we can at least live life to the
full - and no regrets.
But what if the heartache becomes too much? What if it's just too painful? Your heart is breaking
now, torn as it is by that yearning for the eternal moment. Those who seek God are often torn by the
suffering of separation from the One they love. They feel it as a howling anguish in the pit of their hearts.
The psalms are full of such yearning: 'like the deer that yearns for running streams so my soul is yearning
for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life; when can I enter and see the face of
God?' Ps 41 (42) And sometimes God takes pity on the wretched soul and takes him or her up to him to
enjoy the bliss that is, was and will be, one with him, a consolation for faithfulness.
Jesus knew this anguish. He felt it on the cross: 'My God, my God, why have you abandoned
me?' (Matt 27, 47)He was speaking for us all, knocking on Eden's gates. He had to accept the heartbreak
with us, before passing through death into the arms of the Father.
So, that pang in the heart, that moment when you're looking at flower or a sunset and your heart
aches with its beauty, remember, it's only the beginning, the start of the extraordinary adventure which is
the continuing life of the spirit moving ever nearer to God.
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