Recovering paradise

Tilling the soil of our hearts during Lent prepares us for the blossoming of new life at Easter, for grace is the seed of glory, writes Robert Capone.

My friend and I meet in her garden and walk among the dancing shadows with delight. Flourishing vines and branches reach out spontaneously. A tall green hedge stands at a reverent distance as water trickles nearby. Fragrant blossoms bear the promise of sweet fruit, beckoning our return. It is hard not to think of Adam and Eve when we have to leave.

Can we return to paradise, or do we simply survive on the periphery – in the valley east of Eden? Shall we go west, or is paradise a state of being? The ancient ecumenical teachers suggest that we can return to paradise by retracing our steps! The Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving help. In Eden, there was balance between soul and body, senses, mind and will, harmony with creation. We can return to God through prayer, reach equilibrium within ourselves through fasting and re-establish right relationship with others through almsgiving.

‘Return to God with your whole heart’, resounds the prophetic proclamation on Ash Wednesday (Joel 2.12). St Augustine speaks of the love of God above all things and the love of all things in and for God. Unable to love the supreme good, God, above all, fallen humanity’s other desires are disordered. The grace that comes through prayer heals the will and elevates freedom for God whom we now strive to love with all our heart.

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